Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas photos!

(Misha, Vital,i and Max, mouths full of chocolate and bubble gum
posing with their new fluffy friends)


A couple of days before Christmas, the boys received a fabulous pre-Christmas celebration complete with gifts just for them! A special couple wanted to do something for our boys to mark their first American Christmas and to express how happy they are that Max, Misha and Vitali have a family of their very own this year. Isn't that great?! They brought quite a few lovely gifts and each gift was so perfect that I was amazed--still am! This generous couple had never really met the boys personally and yet the gifts the boys received were absolutely inspired!
Steve and I kept glancing at eachother with open mouthed amazement.
And the boys were thrilled, of course! (Misha yelled, "TWO SHOES!!")

Since this occasion was just for the boys, I had given the girls the option of going somewhere else for the evening but they wouldn't miss it for the world! They are so happy to have brothers and they are used to the fact that things are still a little different for the boys. In many ways, it is like we have new babies in the house. Everyone knows babies get extra attention. :-) (Shhhh....don't tell the boys I said they were like babies!) We are so blessed that our family has welcomed these boys with such wide open arms. The girls have been so unselfish and wonderful in their attitudes. In fact, they were just plain honored that their brothers could be so blessed! And if it sounds like I'm bragging--I am!

And, let me tell you my special Christmas gift: My mom's housekeeper, Joanne, wanted to do something to express her welcome for our boys and to help me out this Christmas. She insisted on cleaning our house for us!!! I was able to get my tidying up done early and then do some last minute shopping with Steve (My mom had the kids--another wonderful blessing for me!) and come home later to the house sparkling and smelling so clean! I think it is worth noting that despite the fact that the number of children in our house has doubled this year, this is the first year that I have actually gotten to bed EARLY on Christmas Eve!! What a wonderful treat that was!

Speaking of Christmas Eve, Hannah gathered the kids together into costume that special night in our living room and put on a very quick performance of "Joy to the World" sung/mumbled-with-a-Russian-accent. After the musical number, they all posed for a nativity picture. All except Ivy that is. I think she would have rather been Mary so she could hold the baby Jesus.Christmas morning was a fun time for the children. The kids unpacked their stockings first. These stockings were a gift from the mother of a very good friend of ours. She made them each a stocking and then each stocking is personalized with the children's names! How fun! Then we ate lefse for breakfast, this is the first time the boys had tried lefse, a Norwiegian tradition we do that honors my mother's heritage. Max liked it quite a bit, but it is one of those things that has to grow on you. :-)(Vitali, opening a "family gift" a six-piece percussion set--I know, what was I thinking?!)

We opened gift after gift. The kids had each shopped for eachother at the dollar store (Love that place!) That right there was 30 gifts! They had also wrapped up a whole bunch of their own toys and clothes to give to eachother. And then there were the "real" gifts! Such fun!

After the gift opening was done, the kids played a while with their new prizes.
Then we all went to my mom and dad's house for a simple but delicious dinner. With cheesecake and the rest of the cookies for dessert. Mmmm!

The theme of our Christmas this year seemed to be the generosity and love of others. God has richly blessed us! We truly just shake our heads in humble grattitude. Thank you all who watch our story, who pray for us, rejoice with us and who have lent a helping hand! We may not ever be able to repay you but we are so thankful. More than you know.

We hope your Christmas was as special as ours!
Happy New Year!
God bless you all.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Monday, December 22, 2008

Lost in translation--again! With a Christmas/Jungle theme

It is the first Christmas for the boys in America! We decorated the tree several weeks ago and all the children were so excited! The boys watched as the girls picked out several ornaments from Christmases before gleefully chatting about their memories and I noticed thoughts passing in the eyes of the older boys. I wonder what they were thinking--or maybe they were just processing the information. Next year they will have memories on our tree too.

We have an advent box that has a little door for every day of December until Christmas. What fun each night when they all line up and the child whose turn it is swings open the tiny door! Last night, they found a strip of paper which led them around the house a bit. The end of the search was a red gift bag with some markers and construction paper in it. My mom had sent over all the markers for them.

They spent all last evening drawing and creating and woke up only to pick up where they had left off! Misha asked me how to spell "gorilla", so I told him. After the "a", he wanted to put a period. "It's not a sentence", I corrected him. So he thought about it and added some words. Now, according to him, the sentence reads, " The gorilla ate the sandwich". But it doesn't, because word order does matter in English! Ha ha! And, yes, that should say "sandwich" but when he asked how to spell "Shannwich" I just couldn't resist....

Melissa

Snuggling is the best Medicine.

Vitali was awake late the other night. He was very distressed that he was coughing and it just wouldn't stop! Steve gave him some medicine and rubbed Vicks on his chest. A glass of water and some snuggle-time in Daddy's bed and Vitali was feeling pretty happy! There is just something special about sleeping in Mommy and Daddy's bed!

He woke up early this morning coughing again. I took him a glass of water and he blew his nose. He was again very annoyed that he didn't want to cough but he was coughing anyway. He kept telling me that he didn't want to cough but it just kept coming out of him. I think he was afraid he'd get in trouble for making noise in the night.

After he drank his water he asked me, "Mama, will you please snuggle me in my bed?" Of course I did. And it occurred to me that it wasn't something he had asked before. I think it is another step towards being a regular little boy when he knows he can ask me to comfort him when he is sick. Maybe it sounds strange to any of you whose children have always had parents but these little things stand out with the boys because they have been conditioned not to expect it. They don't expect it so they don't ask. Whey they do ask, it is new and special to me.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Lost in translation...

Word order is not so important in Russian. It is tricky to teach it in English to a formerly-Russian-speaking child. Sometimes it doesn't matter. Sometimes....

Me: Knock, Knock

Misha: Whose There?

Me: Ach

Misha: Who Ach.

Me:
Never mind.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Much to be thankful for.

Thanksgiving...I need to say something about this "first" quickly before Christmas arrives!!

In the weeks before Thanksgiving, I read to the childrean from a child's chapter book about the Pilgrims, the Mayflower and the Indians. I read of how the Separatists had to sneak to have their services and how it was so important to them that their children grow up in the Lord that they were willing to risk everything toward that end. The kids all listened and asked for another chapter each time. The boys seemed to get quite a bit from the story, something which surprised me. Their favorite things were: Pilgrims, The Mayflower and Indians.

We talked about the reason for Thanksgiving. To thank God. We discussed how this is what the pilgrims did and shook our heads that so many children miss that important part of the story.

A day or so before the Big Day, I took the kids for a nature walk up the street. Anything, to help pass the time till Thanksgiving would finally arrive! The boys and girls both were soooo excited!

This goofy guy (Misha) found a giant leaf which he declared to be a hat for our "POMkyin". Our pumpkin was sure to love it, he assured me...

...It did.

On Thanksgiving we went to my parents home where all my brothers and their families (except one) and my sister and her family were. The boys did fairly well playing with their cousins. This is something that surprised me. I thought that they would love to play with kids but they don't. It is something that they have had to learn. I guess that it is a trust issue; I don't know for sure.
Anyway, this time was much better. Vitali plays just fine now. Like a normal little kid. The other two are "quirky" at best! :-) (Vitali and cousin Simon)

Max tends to hoard toys. I forget to watch for this. I noticed that he would hold onto the toys he wanted--which just so happened to be his cousins') while he watched TV. I had to go and explain to him that he should choose an activity; play with toys or sit and watch television but that it wasn't nice to keep all the toys when he wasn't using them anyway. I saw his brow furrow with the difficult decision but Television won at that point and he set down the toys. His cousins really put up with him surprisingly well.

Why is it that TV casts such a spell? It did serve as a good way to keep the kiddos busy in the last moments before we ate. Misha didn't complain once about being hungry...
The children were all eager for the big dinner! Max liked everything. He is my best eater. He loves pretty much anything we give him. Especially meat and soup! Turkey was his "favit", he announced. He enjoyed sitting by his cousin "Eefin" (Ethan--also what he calls my brother Nathan, kind of a one-word-fits-many thing.)

It was a very lovely Thanksgiving.
We do indeed have much to be thankful for.

Praise the Lord.

Friday, November 21, 2008

How we do it: Part 3

Here's an easy one:
(I know, smarty-pants--there are two yellow ones.
But one of them has a flaw so we can still tell the difference.)

Drinking glasses.

When we had only two girls in the house, I decided that my friend Heather's mom had the right idea. If you are just using your cup for water, you shouldn't need a new one every time you fill up.

So, we get our cups in the morning, letting the old ones go into the sink, and then continue to use the same cups all day. The kids know to choose cups of different colors so as to keep things obvious.

Think about it, with six kids at three or four cups each (low estimate) of water per day...well, you can do the dish-washing math yourself. :-)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

How we do it: part 2

First of all, I need to tell you all very frankly that I am NOT an organized person by nature! In fact, for those of you who have suggested such, all my family and childhood friends are laughing their heads off at the suggestion!!! Thank you for making them so gleeful. :-)

I have spent my life disorganized. I don't know about ADD. I refuse to label myself like that; it is probably way to extreme anyway. I will say that I have had to carefully think of ways to cope with my tendency to wander the house aimlessly working while somehow managing to accomplish nothing. I was, until the last few years, a moderate hoarder. Until I met Flylady, I never threw much away. I couldn't resist a good deal-- and If I found one, it made me hold onto that item forever. I know I am not alone!

I am much better now. (I am not as good at this as my sister in law, Lynn, but I am trying!) I resist bringing anything into my home that will just be clutter. Kitchen tools must multi-task! I like simple, clean lines. I will go without for a long time waiting to buy exactly what I need rather than buying things that might work. (you know how that goes; they never get used!)

My house is not, I repeat: NOT in perfect order. In fact, most of the time, it is not in order at all! There are often toys everywhere and the change of seasons swamps me with clothes. Right now, there is a laundry basket of clothes on my living room couch for me to sort through and on the floor My Little Ponies are threatening to take over that space. (I am coming back to add that the ponies have taken the living room.)

I do have the blessing of knowing that for a brief period of time each day, all the menial daily work that a small child can do has been done! That is why I love my jobs system. I can do the projects, like the clothes, attacking the laundry mountain, vacuuming and the like and have somewhere otherwise neat to begin.

Okay, I just wanted to say all that because If any of you ever drop by unannounced, I don't want you to be surprised by the actual state of things!
The End.

Today's topic is homeschooling.

I have had a lot of requests for how I handle this one. This is another area that I have had to compensate for my lack of organization in. My biggest blessing that has helped me so much this year is that Steve built in a bookshelf on which I can store our books. I used to keep them all over the place. One shelf of this is dedicated only to our daily books. Now, each morning after work and breakfast, I can easily grab that stack of books and put it on the table in the kitchen where we do school.

We try to start at 10:30 am. Usually,we get one main and one partial or light subject done before lunch. For instance, today, I began by reading three chapters (they are short chapters) of our "Pilgrim book" to the kids before we began. After that, we got started on Math.

I have six kids but only four are officially in school. Ivy and Vitali have worksheets they sometimes do and they listened to the reading time but they are free to go and play at any time. Three of the kids are in first grade work. (Max, Misha and Annette) Hannah is in fourth grade.

Even though three are in first grade, I purposely keep them on different pages. I found out early in the year that if Misha didn't know the answer, he had no problem looking at Max's paper to find it! Annette learns quickly and other than a little help along the way, she can get through her work on her own once I give it to her so she accomplishes more ground than the others each day.

So, how do I do it? Again, I have to compensate for my lack of organization. Here are some things I do. These may or may not work for you but they do for our situation:

  1. I do not grade papers. What?! Yes, I do not ever grade papers. I used to try but just didn't get to it! So, what do I do? As each paper is finished, I look at it. I circle incorrect ones and send the kids back to fix them. If I notice that one child has trouble with a particular concept, I may give an extra worksheet with that concept on it. I do not keep a grade book and never put a letter on the tops of the pages. I home school independently and am not required to submit grades the the school system . I set for the kids the standard of 100% comprehension of concepts and so I do school with that in mind.
  2. I do not do lesson plans. I know that I will not follow them! Nor will I get around to keeping them up so my method needs to compensate for that. Instead, when I get our books at the beginning of the year, I count the pages. I figure out how many pages need to be covered each day in order to reach the end of the school year having covered the required 180 days and finishing the books. So maybe I have a general all-year goal--but I don't call it a lesson plan.
  3. I sit at the table while the kids all work there. I don't do anything else. I can't. The boys need me too much anyway. We take a good sized break at lunch time for me to do a few things and during that time, the kids go and play. Also, if I don't sit there with the kids, it is too easy for me to say, "I'll help you in a minute" and then never actually do it! (Keep in mind that homeschooling does not run from 9:00am-2:30pm like formal schools do.)
  4. I don't get out much. I try not to sabotage our schedule by planning lunches with other friends or going shopping or doing errands. I know myself. If we don't just sit down and do it the same way every day, it will get pushed aside and forgotten!
  5. I kill two (or three) birds with one stone. Like yesterday when I had Hannah use her Bible memory verses for handwriting practice and Annette write on her language paper about George Washington after skipping to that section in her history book and having her read about him.
    I call it 'sneaky' but it does help them retain so much more.
If I think of more, I'll post it on here. for now, that is all I have. I just want to say though, that these things make me most consistent at the school stuff. Sometimes I can add more and sometimes, like on Wednesdays, for instance, we do a lighter load. My methods work for me because they are basic and affect only the core structure of how I work and allow me to build on them with relative ease.

Any questions? Ask! I am sure I left things out.

Melissa

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

How we do it: part one

I think a good place to begin is with a disclaimer: I am not an expert, just a mom. I have six kids but I'm still new at it! My current methods have evolved and are subject to change at any time. What works for me,may not work for you so I will try to explain my reasons for my methods as I go.

It seems to me that the best way to go about this is to do it in installments. I will put all I can think of about each topic that comes to mind in individual posts. Then I will label the posts with the topic "how we do it" so that the posts can be gathered together with one click later on.

Also, if you think of anything you want to ask about--about the topic or other topics that interest you--please say so in your comments and I will try to answer them in this series of posts.


And without further ado, the topic of the day--

I debated about what to start with and decided to begin with my favorite thing instead of saving it till last. Our job system.(Vitali, age four, unloading the dishwasher)

It is important to begin at the beginning. I did not bring home three Russian-speaking boys and expect them to clean the living room the next week. I counted it as helping around the house if they didn't miss the toilet, for goodness sakes! We had a lot of work to do with the boys to get them to obey us (another topic--not sure if I'll do that one or not...) and it was all consuming for three weeks at least. Then for the following three or four weeks we were mostly consumed, followed by a couple more weeks that eventually and gradually morphed into days at a time where we would go to bed smiling and not completely exhausted. This period of time would certainly have been a recipe for failure for any attempt at structure in the area of housework. One day, after the storm had lifted and I was able to look around and survey the wreck of my routines, I was inspired with what is now our job system.

I should say that I rejected all ideas I had seen up until this point knowing that charts, rotation schedules, and the like would be disastrous failures for me. I needed something that required no maintenance on my part. No stickers to buy, no "Oh, yeah, it's Monday and I forgot to update the chart" business for me!

An adoption friend, Leslie, posted on her blog how she made a list of all the daily jobs she could think of and required the kids to each choose four a day to accomplish. I made mine a variation on this technique.

First, I started out like Leslie, I made a list. My children were all eight and under so the work needed to be appropriate for their ages. In making my list, I divided up some jobs. Like for instance, CLEAN THE KITCHEN overwhelms me and I knew that none of the kids could really do the counters yet anyway. So I divided that room like this, SWEEP THE FLOOR, and TIDY KITCHEN FLOOR, and CLEAR THE TABLE (breakfast). None of these jobs is all that hard in and of itself and I knew that could be key to our success.

Next, I got my supplies. Enthusiasm gave me focus and I put magnetic tape and magnetic adhesive sheets on my shopping list. Then, I typed, in easy to read capital letters, each separate job. I cut out and stuck these onto individual pieces of magnetic tape. In the end, I drew pictures on the tape too since only two of my six children could read English! Like I said, No maintenance for me!

Also, Most of the kids didn't even recognize their own names in print and in the interest of clarity and color, I had wallet sized pictures of the kids printed and I cut these out and stuck them onto the magnetic sheets. Even the littlest two. Can they clean the living room? Not alone, but I can go in there and do the job with them and be investing in my future and theirs too. One day, they'll surprise me and do the work themselves! For now, I am resolved to be joyful with their imperfection.

Each morning, and this has been fine-tuned, the kids do their Morning Routines: clothes on, teeth brushed, beds made, and THEN are allowed to go and choose their jobs for the day. This gives incentive to hurry and get the MR done so as to pick the favorite jobs! The oldest two each pick
three, the middle two pick two, and the small ones are supposed to pick one. (They don't always pick and then they don't always do the job since their success depends on me helping but I am just planting seeds with them right now anyway) They "pick" by taking a job-magnet and placing it under their picture, like a mini to-do list.

When each job is done, this method still allows for a closing action (like putting a star on a chart or marking something off of a list does) giving a sense of done-ness. They simply take the job from under their picture and return it to the space above. When they are done, There is nothing under their picture.

This week, I added a feature. I put a star sticker on the main jobs or "big" jobs. I made a new rule that each of the four older children needs to pick at least one "star" job with his/her other jobs. This makes sure that the last picker isn't left with the biggest jobs. This was a stroke of genius. :-) It has smoothed out that wrinkle very well.

Obviously, I homeschool and we are home all day. We do these jobs in the morning but no one here needs to be out the door at 7:00am. This system may need to be tweaked to have separate morning/afternoon sets of jobs, maybe on different colored papers. (Pick yellow in the morning and blue in the evening, for instance).

We don't do jobs on Sundays, but we sometimes do an extra job each on Saturdays. It varies. I told the kids it would. I also told them that I may say in the evening, "would you please_________" and still expect a willing helper. I haven't had anyone say, "But Mo-om, I did my jobs this morning!"

And, I mentioned being joyful in imperfection when it comes to the littlest ones. This applies to the older kids too! One job in the list is "Surprise". That is one that is an unknown until it has been chosen. (Usually, it is unknown to me, too. And I scramble to think of something!) This gives me the option of getting something small done that I may not need done daily but that needs done that day.

Max loves to get "surprise". The other day, Misha and Max were doing all their jobs together and for the surprise job I gave the task of helping me clean my room. (poor bedroom, it can get so neglected!) this is what my bed looked like when they were done:


Perfect? No!

Done? Yes.

H a l l e l u j a h !!

Melissa






Tuesday, November 11, 2008

How We Do It: the teaser

I have had a bunch of requests for me to let you know how we handle all these new challenges in parenting. I want to answer that but I am not sure I can get to it till later in the week. Until then, I am thinking on it and trying to notice the main things as well as the things we do without thinking about it.

One thing I'll tell you right now that works great is our chore system. I'll show you pictures of that when I post. The other thing that comes to mind is to admit right now that my housework, despite the chores, suffers! I have had to come to terms with that fact. In fact, before the boys ever got here, I planned on it. Life is stressful enough without worrying too much about what I just can't get to and still stay a sane mom!

Melissa

Monday, November 03, 2008

school time

Some of the kids at the kitchen table working on schoolwork this morning.
Max (he wears the patch for lazy eye), Misha in the back, Ivy near the wall and Annette's shoulder and knee.

School started out rough for the boys, especially Max, but now they are doing well. Max and Misha are both in first grade books. I am trying to push Max through as fast as possible but he really started from scratch. He couldn't add or subtract at all. He didn't understand much of anything. He seems to have it now and things are really moving along for him and for that I am grateful! He is picking up reading pretty well but has trouble with the changing vowel sounds of English. Once he gets that down he'll just take off, I think.

Misha does pretty well at his work too. His handwriting is especially nice. He knows it and is proud to work at it, tongue sticking out with the effort. :-) His reading is choppier but he seems to have the vowels down and may overtake Max soon if Max doesn't pick them up fast enough!
(Max has the problem of having learned to read in Russian/ Ukrainian and is un-learning that at the same time as learning English letters.)

It is funny that they don't call their Math book "Math" they call it the "Giraffe book" because of the giraffe on the cover and their language book is the "Skunk book" for the same reason. They both groan when it is time to start school but they both usually ask to do more pages at the end of the day. They really enjoy sitting down to a task.

Vitali was so proud because I got out a "real" school book for him today and taught him to carefully trace the letters on the special lines. He was beaming! Ivy is working on learning to write her name and Vitali was so proud to be doing something she wasn't doing yet. He is really starting to "catch up" to being a four-year-old as far as his maturity goes! (that said, "maturity" still sounds like a funny word to use to describe Vitali!)

Sorry for the long hiatus in postings! I will try to do better!
Scroll down below this post and see the new pictures in the post below.

Melissa

Fun

We enjoyed a fun weekend full of costumes and fun! Look at the boys on their first Lawn-tractor-engine-train ride!
Look how excited Misha is. Like a 10-month-old seeing his favorite toy or food!

Vitali rode "his" pony very proudly

Misha was a policeman. It suited his "authoritative" nature perfectly!!
(the others just call him bossy)
He is!

Spidermax.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Borscht recipe

I have had several requests for the borscht recipe that I used. Unfortunately, I didn't keep it. I also didn't stick to it very well.

I can tell you how I found it online, though.
First, I looked for Borscht recipes with a search engine. Specifically, I looked for one I could do in a slow cooker. I ended up cooking it on the stove anyway because school was very demanding of my attention that day and I never got a free moment in the 2-3hour window of time that I should have been cooking! Such is life... anyway, I digress.

After finding a bunch of recipes, I compared them with my favorite borscht ever. And, that, interestingly enough, I had at a Ukrainian friend's house here in the States! Anyway, she told me that there are differing versions of borscht; that some have pickled beets and some regular (I think) truthfully, it could be that some have cabbage and some don't. ANYHOOO....

I knew the basic ingredients and what I didn't want: anything pickled! I also knew that it should cook a long time to really be good. So, I chopped veggies, tossed in some leftover potroast pieces and cooked away. In the end, I added more beef broth. When I served the leftovers, I added even more. We thought there were too many veggies. Not that we don't like veggies but just that we like the borscht a little brothier. (spell-check says "brothier" isn't a word; what do they know?)

I hope that helps!

Melissa

Monday, October 13, 2008

Family picture.

I had all the kids draw a family portrait this morning for our school time (yes, we had school on Columbus Day! I forgot. And we wondered most of the day until Max's calendar activity on his math paper where the mailman was!) . It was fun seeing what the kids came up with. I mentioned before that Misha just usually draws whatever Max does but this time, he couldn't see Max's drawing very well from where he was and despite his initial concern of "How?", he dove in and got started, his tongue hanging out with all it's might!

This is his final product:
The thing that cracks me up is how well he portrayed his view of everyone. From left to right, Steve is in the back row (the black chest is chest hair. The shorts are swimming trunks. Misha is our sensory one, remember? The chest hair is a very prominent feature to him; He calls it prickly!); next is me, Mama. LOL!!! What's up with my hair?!! I am holding an ice cream cone and a flower. I also look like I am wearing Ukrainian-style tall boots!

Ivy follows me, her hair being the only in the picture that actually hangs down. Interesting, since her beautiful, long hair is really her signature feature. Max is next (after our house) and wearing his eye-patch and a sword. I think he also has a peg-leg. He wears an eye patch every day for a lazy eye. Next are Hannah and Annette. I am not sure which is which. I do notice that one of them has a big mouth. Hmmm...

Misha is that bald guy at the end. We asked him why he had no hair and he just said, "Me nee (not) I-want-it hair." And that was that.

My favorite is Vitali. He's the one in the water in the foreground. We have been having a cycle of misbehavior from him this past couple of weeks and, even though today has been a very good one, Vitali was in the water because, according to Misha, "Papa said get out of the water to Vitali and Vitalik Nee listen."

I just loved all the little clues into his mind in that picture! Hysterical how much of his own personality I see in his drawing! I am so glad I did this today.

Have a great day!

Melissa.

PS. I am just about to post all the kids' work on my regular day-to-day blog that I call "Life Here". If you want to take a peek, come on over!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Ukrainian night at our house!

We had a Ukrainian night at our house recently. The boys were sooo excited!! Especially Max. He ate at least three bowls of Borscht, the most well-known Ukrainian soup there is. Beets give it and everything in it a slightly odd pinkish-red color. It has vinegar and/or lemon juice and that gives it an acidic taste which is softened when served with a dollop of smetana (sour cream).
Steve made my day by stopping on the way home from work at the international foods store and buying some other Ukrainian yummies: Sandora brand juice, a cold sausage and even some candy made in the very same factory that we lived over when we were in Kharkiv, Ukraine, where the boys are from!
I did my best at phonetically spelling everyone's names in cyrillic. If you read Russian, you may find that I messed up. Doesn't matter, no one seemed to notice!
We had leftovers on Sunday night. Max was so excited he could hardly stop hugging me! Very gratifying for a mom. :-)

Melissa

Monday, September 29, 2008

QUEEN is Awesome!

Well this is one post I never thought I would write. QUEEN, the UK rockband performed at Freedom Square in Kharkov this last week and raised over 800,000 gr which is nearly $200,000 US dollars. The money was donated to the Green Forest Orphanage. This is the home where we adopted our boys. This is a massive amount of money for this orphanage.

Here is Queen live in Kharkov singing "We are the Champions!"



God works in mysterious ways!

A major thanks to QUEEN!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Nine Years Old!!!

Today was Max's first birthday in America. Phew! Am I glad that is over!!! Just kidding! (sort of)

Max has talked of nothing else for the past month. "My Bootday soon, yes?" "27 my bootday, yes?" etc...
He has spent the last three days carrying around a composition notebook and writing lists of 27 random things, mostly our names, and asking me how to spell them all! I can promise you that I was about as ready for the big day as he was!!!

His favorite color is pink. It's funny because that is also my dad's favorite color. He wanted a pink cake but decided to opt for a dinosaur cake instead. I ended up making a volcano with rubber dinos prancing about all over it. They didn't seem to mind the hot lava one bit! A purple mountain and red lava icing, bridge mix boulders and one of those packages of sugar letters that say "happy birthday" that Max saw and asked for, a package of cheep-o dinosaurs and we had a fancy looking cake to make any first birthday party a fun one!
Three blows to blow out all the candles.
It's alright; he's had a lot of wishes come true for him this year.

It was hard to get pictures of the gifts because everyone
would crowd in just as we snapped the shots!
What fun!

Annette's gift to Max...Oh look! just what she always wanted!

Misha picked out the perfect gift. A gun that lights up
and--Heaven help us--Makes rapid fire shooting sounds.

Pra Dedushka and Misha.
(That's Great-Grandpa to us English-speakers.)

Hannah read the card she wrote to Max.

The Birthday Boy

All tuckered out.

Melissa

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Going Well

Things are going well here. The kids all continue to get along as though the boys had always been here. for the most part, the kids divide along gender lines only for certain times of play. The boys play cars, the girls talk dolls, that sort of thing. In general, we see them play together most of the time.

The weather has suddenly cooled just enough to draw everyone outdoors and we have started school a little late the last few mornings while I let the kids take advantage of the perfect fall mornings. Our driveway is on a hill and while this is something I used to regret, now I am grateful for it! The kids have spent many hours riding bikes down that hill! Remember Max's sneakers?

The last few days I have noticed the wagon hitched to the back of the play tractor. the wagon is full of dry grass clippings. Hannah tells me it is their hayride. Max is the usual driver and I have seen up to three kids piled into the back of his trailer depending on whether he is going uphill or down. :-)
Vitali and Ivy play most of the day together. They fight like little kids will, but they also love to be together. They are so funny! We just love the entertainment they provide! Here are a couple of pictures of today's lunch. Peanut butter and silly sandwiches.


Life is good. We are blessed. So very blessed. Praise the Lord!

Melissa

Saturday, September 20, 2008

anyone know how to read children's drawings?

I know that there are clues in children's drawings as to how they are feeling about different areas of their lives. I am not worried but I was thinking this morning as the boys trouped out to show me their artwork that Max always draws the same things. Misha always draws his own rendition of what Max draws. I think I know how to read Misha--extreme follower(?)

And to me, Max looks pretty happy with life in general.

These are some of Max's recent works. I haven't selected only my favorites, just a random sampling. And other than that cute little monkey, these are all very typical for him.
A church, a rainbow, a smiling sunglass-clad sun and a big tree.

A very freaky-looking smiling sun (I don't think the freakiness was intentional), a house, some trees, birds in the sky...

I love this one. It's a monkey. Hard to see but so cute.


Here is something typical for him: Christmas-themed pictures. Even in the orphanage when we went to visit him, he was always drawing presents and Christmas trees. That is Grandfather Frost (Like Santa) flying overhead, and of course, the ever present smiling sunshine.

Another house. Ours. I am pretty sure he drew this picture just to have a place to put that American flag. He loves American symbols. He also loves the Ukrainian flag, but rarely draws it.

This is Hannah. I think she needs to brush her teeth. :-)

Here's what I know:
Even though Max is eight, his coloring is more like someone younger. When he colors in a coloring book, he has only this past month or so started coloring things color-correct. In other words, his pictures before might have a purple sun, a blue cat, or one pink and one orange arm, etc...

He draws smiles, bright colors, rainbows and sunshine.
I am guessing he's pretty happy in general.

He draws homes, houses, and churches. I don't really know what to make of this except that he always seems to draw them with a happy environment.

In a coloring book, he will usually choose pictures of a big animal with a smaller one, father son, sister brother, mother baby, etc...

So, If you are learned in this area (or even if you are not), give me some feedback! I'd love to hear what you think. I will consider anything you suggest. Like I said, in general, he seems pretty happy and content. He really seems to be enjoying family life. He's kind and gentle and loving particularly to the little ones.