Thursday, May 21, 2009

Thank You, STAR!

Max and Misha went to their last riding session at STAR this past Tuesday. They took pictures of themselves with their horses and wrote on their papers that they loved their horses and thanked STAR for their time there. Their pictures cracked me up!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


STAR is a therapeutic riding facility that our boys have been able to attend for the last nine weeks. Although STAR is for handicapped and/or mentally disabled kids, our boys qualify because of some problems with Fetal Substance Exposures. Max and Misha each struggle in different areas because of this but really are highly functional. In some ways we feel guilty taking them to ride alongside other kids with much more visible issues. That said, we are increasingly aware that the boys have difficulties in ways that we don't see with our eyes but that do impact them significantly. (I have mentioned before the challenges with schoolwork)

STAR has been, without question, the highlight of each week for them and they count the days from one week to the next with eager anticipation!

Each session is one hour long and the boys start by caring for their horses: brushing, cleaning their hooves, saddling, etc... Then they ride. they learn to follow directions as their instructor calls them out.

Max loves his horse and loves all animals. This has been something that he has really had to teach himself to do and we are proud of him for taking the initiative to be brave. His horse's name is Breeze. He draws pictures of Breeze every Sunday in Sunday School using a little horse stencil that they have. Then he delivers his pictures to his helpers with pride.
Misha has made great strides since he has come to live in our family! Once terrified to the extreme of everything from puppies to primary-colored plastic bugs, he has readily looked forward to riding his horse, Freckles, and brushes him with little indication of his sensitivities. I do still notice a little timidness near the horse's face and neck but as he brushes the rest of the horse, he looks like any other little boy happily brushing a horse! The best thing is that he tries. He pets the horse's head and talks to Freckles when he walks by. He does this partly to show others that he is not afraid but he doesn't realize that he is actually teaching himself not to be fearful!

The boys have one more week of riding. I have yet to warn them. They have loved it and we have loved giving them this opportunity!

The rest of the family watches the boys ride. Today Hannah finished her homework and the other girls picked flowers. Vitali took care of Misha's hat.

Max's new specs

Max's lazy eye has been immensely helped through six or nine (I can't remember) months of patching but after a three-month span of trying no patch, there are some residual control issues. The Dr. recommended trying these glasses which he will wear all the time for three months and then perhaps, if necessary, three months more. This is all in an effort to avoid surgical correction.

We all think he looks very handsome and smart in his new specs. Don't you agree?

Below is a picture where he is being silly and looking over his glasses but it distinctly shows how his eye jumps away in certain circumstances--especially when looking straight up. His left eye is the trouble-maker.

Max is very proud of his glasses but the newness will wear off soon, I am sure. He was listing all the characters on Walker, Texas Ranger today for me that wear glasses! Haha! I had never noticed!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

All six. All looking in one direction. :-)

Hannah, Misha, Annette,
Ivy, Vitali

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Willful Ignorance

Here is another of my recent writings

Occasionally I find myself wishing I was ignorant of the plight of the lost child. I think about losing the memories of the smells and sounds in the orphanages. Above all I find myself wanting to forget the faces of the children. The children that unless somebody intervenes are destined for tragedy. I want to go back to a time when they, the lost child, were out there and not in here. I don’t want these memories because they haunt me. They compel me to action. I sometimes just want to go back to a time when I was ignorant!

This primal urge reminds of the lines below from the movie, The Matrix. The character Cypher is struggling with his own desire for ignorance. He longs for the days when he was “plugged in” and was unaware that his entire world was a farce.

…. I know what you're thinking, 'cause right now I'm thinking the same thing. Actually, I've been thinking it ever since I got here: Why oh why didn't I take the BLUE pill?

… I know this steak doesn't exist. I know that when I put it in my mouth, the Matrix is telling my brain that it is juicy and delicious. After nine years, you know what I realize?

[Takes a bite of steak]

Ignorance is bliss…

Would my willful ignorance of the plight the lost child faces really change anything?

Would my ignorance change the fact that a little boy named Vladik in Eastern Europe will almost certainly be dead before his 18th birthday simply because he was born without legs?

Would my ignorance change the fact that a little girl named Chan in China will be dumped on the steps of a decrepit government orphanage?

Would my ignorance change the fact that a young girl named Grace in Sub-Saharan Africa will be raped because local folk legend says ‘sex with a virgin cures AIDS?’

Would my ignorance change the fact that a young boy named Hector in South America will be conscripted into a violent street gang?

Would my ignorance change the fact that a young man named Jason in the United States will join over 250,000 other former foster children who have aged out of foster care and are now in prison?

The reality is my fleeting wish for ignorance is really nothing more than a desire to not confront myself with the fact that the statistic in my mind is an actual child! A REAL child that if I or somebody else does not intervene will face certain untenable odds.

Would my willful ignorance be any better than woeful arrogance?