May 15 marked the 3 month anniversary of bringing the kids home. I can't say Sergey has changed much, but Valya is at the point where every week her English skills keep getting better and better.
We arrived in Mitchell on a Sunday, and the kids were attending Mitchell Christian School the following Thursday. There was actually no school Monday or Friday that first week so it was a good time to get them in there. Of course, they thought they should have a couple of weeks off to "get used to America", but we decided against that! I told them that they had already missed at least 2 weeks of school, so it was time. Now, this coming Thursday May 21 is the last day of school. We will be leaving after work on a road trip to Rapid City, where they will get to meet their new grandparents for the first time (my mom and her husband).
We have the kids preregistered for summer school, they will go during June and July for four days a week from 8:30 to 11:30 am. June is math and July is grammar/reading/writing/English. Neither is happy about that at all!
The kids are doing well. We have discipline issues occasionally with both of them, but just normal stuff kids get in trouble for. A couple of weeks ago Valya had her first emotional issue, cried a good portion of an evening. We, Nancy especially, just did our best to comfort her. Mark was unkind to her about something, plus she was missing her family back in Ukraine, probably some other things. She was back to her usual chipper self the next morning.
Mark is also adjusting to having siblings, but it hasn't been easy for him. He is working through things his own way. We've seen improvement, though, since that issue with Valya.
Nancy and I are adjusting to a much busier life. More errands, more shopping, more food, more clothing, just more everything.
Though our Ukies are 13 and 14 years old, some days it feels like we have toddlers again. I won't go into details on the blog, though, since our kids look at it once in a while. In some ways they have a lot of catching up to do with age-appropriate behavior. But they are terrific kids and a real blessing to us.
As Valya's English skills increase, she is starting to tell us more about life in the orphanage. She told Nancy the other night how the girls in her dorm would cry at night because they had no one that loved them. She also asked Nancy the night before last why it took so long for us to come get her. How do you explain government quotas? That was unforgivable last year. Thankfully, it looks like this year there are no adoption quotas.
The three months since we have been home have gone quickly. I am looking forward to summer so that we can do more fun things as a family, instead of just homework every night. I am starting to get a little vacation time build up again. My two adoption trips to Ukraine really wiped it out.
Here are some pictures of things that have been going on the last couple of months.
At Easter, we visited one of Nancy's sister's family in Northern Minnesota.
When Valya has friends over, it is almost a sure thing that there will be girlie stuff like makeup and hair fixing done.
Valya's room. She has pictures of our time in Ukraine taped all over her dresser. Some of them are on our blog. On the nightstand next to her bed there is a picture of her with her orphanage director, taken the day I took her from her orphanage. She says that he is a good man.
Valya has discovered YouTube. She loves watching programs and videos from Ukraine. Yesterday she lost computer priviledges for not obeying Nancy and that was painful for her.
For one of his school assignments, Sergey gave a report about the Ukrainian famine of 1932-33. One of my first memories of visiting Ukraine was on the ride from the airport to our apartment, we passed a memorial in a park that was filled with candles and flowers. I asked my facilitator what that was and he said it was a memorial to the 3-10 million Ukrainians that Stalin starved to death.
Valya with some roses, they are her favorite flower. Later, she sprayed some perfume on them and learned that that will kill them.
Mark practices rifle target shooting. He earned the shotgun shooting merit badge in Boy Scouts. I haven't let Sergey handle the gun yet. He would love to but I don't have a good feeling about it. While we were waiting to go over and get Sergey, we had sent him the NRA publication called American Rifleman. It is full of articles and ads about guns. The orphanage boys loved it. Sergey showed it to us at the orphanage and it was pretty worn out.
Valya loves Nancy. Lately, as her English has been improving, we are getting more insight into her heart. She thanks God for this "good" family when we pray with her at bedtime.
Track season came to an end this last week. Mark and Valya both participated at the junior high level. This was the first organized sport that Valya had ever been in and it was a new adventure for her. She loves volleyball and is anxious for Fall for that sport. Mark especially loves basketball, while Sergey loves baseball. Baseball practice has been going for about 3 weeks now. They will have their first game in June.
Mark and teammates watch Valya compete.
Valya gets race instructions from a teammate. She and Mark worked very hard this season.
Waiting for yearbook pictures to be taken.
I felt sorry for the kids a couple of weeks ago. May 7th was Nancy's birthday, and May 10th was my birthday and Mother's day. 3 major present and card giving events in 4 days. The kids seemed to enjoy it, though.
Valya made Nancy's Mother's Day card. She is a good artist. Sometime I will post one of her drawings.
All of our kids were in Sunday school, which ended last week. Sergey and Valya participated in the grade school age program.
Valya has a bright pink feather boa. She stands out when she wears it to church!
For my birthday, we visited the Falls of the Big Sioux river, from which Sioux Falls gets its name. In the picture of Valya climbing up, there is a robin's nest. The mama was nearby squawking quite loudly to scare us away.
My birthday. Valya gave me a card with monkeys on it. It is a joke because I call her my monkey, since she can eat 5 bananas a day.
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