Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Whew, what a summer!

I can't believe that I haven't posted anything since May! The summer has been quite full and now that school is back in session, I have a little (very little) more time to breathe.

June was very full. We went to Texas first and spent 10 days with my family. This gave the kids time to know their Texas cousins and spend time with Opa and Oma. The cousins all got along well to together and we had a great time. The trip also helped Papa and Gideon bond a little more since Papa was always around all the time. It was so good to be with my family and I felt the knot of tension and fatigue I had been carrying since December begin to loosen a little.

Four days after returning from Texas, we drove to Jacksonville, FL for my graduation for my doctorate. It was a fast but wonderful trip. There were a few temper tantrums from both kids but that is to be expected. Being back with my school friends and in that environment was a wonderful balm for me as well.

Four days after returning from Florida, Nina went with the youth from our church on a mission trip to Mississippi to help with the continuing clean up efforts. She had a great time, although she was very nervous about going. We had one tearful phone call but other than that she had a great time and loved helping. When she returned we took a deep breath before July began.

July meant music camp for me at church. Nina helped with that and the week was a great success. At the end of that week, Bruce's brother and his family returned from Japan and came to see the family in Kentucky. The kids all got along well and now we have met all of the immediate extended family! Hopefully this will make family gatherings easier from now on.

In the middle of July, Nina also started working at a local resturant as a cook. She is a great cook already and knows how to work hard. (Can you tell how proud I am of her?) Her bosses love her! She continues to work on Saturdays and will also be helping with the Wednesday night dinners at church. School started last week for her, and she is doing well. She comes home and does her homework without being told. Last year she wanted us to sit down with her and help her do it. This year, she might ask us to check it for her, but that is about all. She has so much more confidence and is really stepping up to the plate.

Gideon has really "settled down" this summer. He is much more in control of himself and his ability to sit and play or color for a longer period of time continues to grow. He continued in the mother's day out program through the summer (When we were here). We are now doing battle with the local school system to get him the help he needs. They refused to evaluate him last spring. They implied that I was too dumb to realize that my son was speaking Russian rather than English and nothing I said could persuade them that HE CANNOT TALK! I think the real reason was that it was too close to the end of school for them to want to do the paperwork. We have been doing speech therapy through a private agency and that has helped. After a summer of work we now have FIVE clear English words! Seems small but when we got him he had a clear vocabulary of about 10 total words. His total vocabulary is up to about 50-60 words and he can put 2 word sentences together. He has now been evaluated by the public schools for speech and we have the meeting Aug 28 at 9:30 EDT to decide what will be done for him. We are also hoping to get them to evaluate him for possible physical and occupational therapy as well as sensory integration disorder. There are no big signs of problems in those areas, but if we can catch some small problems now, that will be a big help later.

In the meantime, we will go back to the Mother's Day Out program while we WAIT on the school system. My work schedule continues to be on hold while we try to sort all this out.

Pray that we will get the school system to give Gideon all of the help he needs without too much hassle.

Pray that Nina will continue to do well at school

Pray for Bruce and I as we continue to make choices about careers. Pray that God will open up the right opportunities for us to increase our income. Pray for my venture into the music publishing business.

Peace of Christ to You all,

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

late nights, internet, and snuggles

I'm trying to be a little better about keeping up with this. I know many of you still check this daily and I am touched and blessed that you care enough about us to continue to do so.

Nina is doing pretty well. She is sad that no one she wrote in Ukraine has written back. She seems to be coming out of the deepest part of the grief cycle, but I think she feels abandoned by the family and friends she left behind. She is gaining more confidence at school and I anticipate her grades beginning to rise. Our biggest concern is that she is spending TONS of time on Russian chat rooms. We have tried to be understanding about this because it gives her a connection to her culture and some badly needed social interaction. The problem she is spending so much time doing it. It is keeping her up way to late, but it is difficult to get any 16 year old to go to bed, much less one that has only been with you 4 months. By the same token Bruce and I have been going to bed way too late as well, so we are walking zombies half the time.

We are struggling with financial and housing decisions right now. We would like to move out to the country but we did not anticipate bringing home a child who would be ready for college in just 3 more years. So we are praying about what to do. I want to be able to shorten Bruce's hour long commute and I would also like a house that would fit our family a little better. But I don't think that can happen at the moment. Soooooo . . .

Gideon is also doing well. We FINALLY are getting some evaluations to get help with his speech delay. He has become a real snuggle bug, especially with Mama, but Papa and Nina get in on the action too. It is amazing to think that in December if my hand touch his bare belly he would descend into a meltdown. Now he pulls up his shirt as we are going to sleep so I can rub his belly and his back. God is good and he is the healer of souls and spirit as well as body.

Please pray that God will draw Gideon and Nina to himself and give them a hunger of Himself and spiritual things. Pray that God will give us wisdom and grace as we seek to parent in a Christlike way.

Peace of Christ my friends,

Monday, April 16, 2007

Sorry for the Long Silence

I really do apologize! Especially since I left on such a tired and traumatic note last time. I can't believe it has been a month since I grabbed a few minutes to write down what's going on.

Let's start with Gideon. He is doing well. We have started going to a mother's day out program close to my work. That means I get 8 whole hours a week to myself!! Alright so far those hours have all gone to Holy Week and Easter preparations at church, but it is still 8 hours a week where I remember who I am without kids around -- okay that's not really true because even when they aren't with me I am still thinking about them. Hmmm, that sounds very Mom-like.

But I am supposed to be talking about Gideon. He is doing well at MDO. He never wants to go, but when we get there, he leaves me at the door and has a great day. Then he usually sleeps in the car while we go get Nina from school. We did have a BIG BIG melt down the first day he went because I told him he was going to go to school that day. The only school he knew was Nina's so he thought he was going with Nina to school. When he finally understood that he was going to a different school he cried and screamed for 10-15 minutes. Many prayers were said that morning. Other than that, he continues to eat like he is 10 or 12 rather than 4. My parents were here last week and he ate roughly 6 meals a day. We have joked that he eats like a hobbit (See the first Lord of the Rings book or movie to get that reference). But he has grown over an inch and added 6 or so pounds since the medical exam in Kiev.

I should also mention our round with a 24 hour stomach virus. It was 3 Wednesdays ago. He got sick in the car and was burning up with fever when we got home from picking up Nina from school. [Doesn't that complete the official Mom initiation?]. Bruce was working late that night so I had to call into church and get someone else to cover my teaching responsibilities that night. The up side was that for the first time, he sat in the rocking chair and snuggled with me for over an hour. Nina went to church with Bruce's parents that night, which was also a good thing. Gideon spent most of the night either asleep on the couch while I watched a movie or throwing up. Luckily for us he slept through the night and was back to himself the next afternoon. But since then he has been much more open and affectionate with me and everyone else as well. It was like he finally learned that touch was good.

We continue to make progress in behavior as well. He is learning self control although he will still try to bite, scratch, and hit when he is put in time out. But even there he is learning to control himself. He has even learned to use the sign for "Sorry" and will use it appropriately. The other thing we are working on is not throwing when he is angry. We are still trying to get him evaluated for his speech delays and see if there are other therapies he might need. I am having to learn to be a pushy mom to get that done.

As for Nina, she is doing well. We have hit the homesick for Ukraine stage. She didn't want to eat American food, even those foods she previously said she liked. She began lounging in her clothes from Ukraine and complaining that all her friends were in Ukraine and she had no friends here. Sometimes you could remind her that she had friends and sometimes you couldn't. Help came from an unlikely source -- Russian chat rooms. Bruce and I have been a little nervous about this, but she has seemed much happier since she started chatting on-line. It gives her a connection to her old culture and the ability to have casual conversation without the mental effort it takes to have those in English. We have and continue to talk to her about the dangers and not giving out personal information and she understands (as much as a 16 year old can) and talk openly with us about who she is talking to and what they are talking about. It does take some asking to get her to talk, but we don't have the sense that she is hiding anything from us. We also feel blessed that she has made contact with a couple of Ukrainian families here in town, including one that has a 19 year old daughter. The girl is reported to be a strong Christian and is following through on contacting Nina. If this is a good as it seems to be, it is exactly what we have prayed for. The girl is old enough to have more maturity than Nina but young enough that Nina can see being in her shoes. Hopefully God's hand is in this and the young woman will be able to help Nina through the rough spots.

Bruce and I are doing alright, we're just really tired. We are so grateful to my parents who came up last week for spring break. It gave us a lot of help with the kids and the house. My Dad put in some fencing and a gate that finished the encloser of our back yard so Gideon can now be contained in it. At least till he learns to climb the fence. We even got a date night last week! Bruce said a couple of weeks ago that he thinks we are finding our stride as a family, and I think he's right. We are getting in the grove that will carry us through the rest of this school year.

Pray for us as we consider the possibility of moving closer to Bruce's work to shorten his hour long commute

Pray for Nina as she deals with her homesickness for Ukraine

Pray that we will find the help and therapists we need for Gideon

Pray that Bruce and I will have the energy to parent them as they need and the wisdom to know what to do.

Peace of Christ,

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Long Night

Well, it looks like we may be in for a long night Gideon has been trying to fall asleep, or maybe that is trying to not fall asleep for the last 2+ hours. I thought I would take a few moments and add to the blog for the junkies out there.

This week has been pretty good overall. Nina seems to be settling in a school a bit. [Thanks to those who responded about an English tutor. We are following through on that] This week has been much better than the previous 2. I am trying to keep in mind that next week may be a down week again. There is no straight forward progress . . . I guess that can be said about all of us.

Gideon seems to be a little harder to handle this week, but I think he is paying us back for the weekend. Some of our friends kept the kids for most of the day on Saturday and then brought them to church on Sunday morning. Nina saw us Saturday night, but Gideon did not see me 'til 10:00 the next day at church and didn't see Bruce until about 2. Soooo, we are dealing with it. [Right now I would be happy if he just went to sleep!]

I will also say that this week seems to be going a little bit faster for me. A good thing in and of itself. Please keep praying for us as we continue to settle in and adjust. Pray for Nina as she continues to work through adapting to the new environement and grieving for the old. Pray we will be able to get Gideon into the therapies he needs. Pray that Bruce and I will have wisdom and patience.

Got to Go, Gideon is screaming for me
Peace, BLN&G

Thursday, March 1, 2007

March 1

Well, we have passed the one month mark at home. Gideon is making great progress. He pretty much cries every time I leave him. He also gets upset when we leave Nina at school in the morning. His behavior continues to improve. He often chooses to control himself instead of disobeying and is even doing better on the hitting and biting front. Now if we could just get him to stop scratching and pinching. . . well one step at a time.

Nina has hit the frustration stage. She told me she has no thought of returning to Ukraine but she is very frustrated and angry this week. I think we are going to seek out an English tutor for her. I don't know if a Russian speaking or ESL tutor would be better. Please give us a holler if you have suggestions or experience in this. We are very glad to receive input. Pray for her as she makes this hurdle, we are told it is a common one that older children go through.

I am doing much better this week than last. Bruce is as well. We are just a touch sleep deprived.

As always your prayers are coveted. I have felt a true sense of God presence and purpose in our circumstances. I don't know the purpose at this time, but I know it has all been God's timing.

Sorry so short, but it grows late and I have miles to go . . .


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Holiday? What Holiday!

I apologize to the blog junkies for not posting more, but it is difficult to find a few minutes to do it.

Things here are still moving, but honestly I feel like we have taken a step backward this week with Gideon. He has been much more defiant this week and pushing just about every boundary he can think of. It is physically exhausting. Some of it is probably because we had set up a routine last week and this week we demolished it because school was out yesterday and today and Bruce worked late yesterday.

Nina is doing well at school, but it is difficult for her and exhausting. I don't think she realizes how much energy it takes to opperate in a culture where you don't know the language, much less try to go to school. She is a big help around the house and she is usually good with Gideon, but he often gets the brunt of her temper -- pretty typical sibling stuff.

Our cars are now fixed (at least for the moment) I am glad to be back in my own vehicle. (We came home to both our cars being dead.) It took a pretty penny to get everything back in order, but God is faithful in his provision. I am not looking forward to the increase in our gas bill as I am now driving 84 miles a day just taking Nina back and forth to school. Hopefully it will just be for the rest of this year.

I have now resumed all my responsibilites at church. So we will find our weekly rhythm and see what life will be like for the next little bit.

We appreciate your continued prayers. We are taking things a day at a time and truthfully these have been the longest 3+ weeks of my life. (Days are much longer when they start at 6:25 rather than 9.)


Monday, February 12, 2007

Good Day

For those of you wondering how Nina's day at school went, she said she had a good day. Nina was very excited over the weekend and a little nervous this morning. Her eyes got pretty big when I said goodbye and she realized I was really leaving her there. I went to pick her up and she practically skipped out of the building with a big smile and big wave. The head guy walked her to the car and said she had a good day.

She said a boy winked at her, there wasn’t much food at lunch, she had a hard time with her locker combination, there was a girl and several boys who spoke Russian, and most of her class speaks Spanish. We struggled a bit with both of them when we got home. Gideon was so glad to see Nina he was bouncing off the walls. Nina was tired and didn’t want anything to do with him. There were some tense moments but it was a good day all around.

Gideon also had a better than average day. We only had 3 punishable offenses all day. However by the time Bruce got home I was SO ready for him to be here it was not even funny.

The High schools all start at 7:40!!!!!!! That means we have to leave the house at 7:00! You know how much I LOVE getting up early. The day is much longer when it starts at 6 instead of 9. In those brief moments when I can think objectively I am aware that we have had the kids with us just a short time (I think this is the 4th week of having them both.) But in general the last 3 weeks – okay 10 weeks - have been the longest of my life. It seems an eternity separates our DINK life (Double Income No Kids) from life with kids. It feels like they have been ours forever and I mean that in a good way.

As I write this Bruce is having his first experience helping his child do their math homework (Nina obviously). We agreed he has Math and Science and I will cover the other subjects. There are moments when it just seems weird that we are suddenly doing all the parenting things we are doing. But truthfully we wouldn't trade it for anything.

Gideon has had a couple of really good days, hopefully we are turning the corner with him, but I'm not holding my breath on that one. He is always going to be active and strong willed but in the last two days I have gotten a lot more kisses and snuggles than in the weeks before.

If you are reading this and are considering adoption I recommend you read the Stewarts latest blog. It gives an honest look at some of the more unpleasant aspects of adopting as well as the joys. I will just add an amen to what she said.