Monday, August 18, 2008

Final Post

All -

Thank you so much for following our adoption story. Our intent was to create a record of our adoption process, not to continue the blog once we were home and living our new life. Even though that is a story it has been a whole different story that we are working on day by day, like you and your family. There are some pictures of the children from this summer at the end of the blog.

However, so many people have asked for an update on the children that I am going to give one last update and then we will go continue working on our life story day by day, like your families.

August 25th will be three months in the United States for Joe, Oksana (what Lyda would like to be called this week) and Matthew, August 29th for Jason and myself. We have spent the last three months getting used to each other, learning what foods we like and do not like. They like almost anything that has mayonaise slathered on it. Learning about bath time and bed time, how we eat together at the table, where we keep our clothes, how not to run across a parking lot when we get out of the car. How to ride a bicycle without training wheels (Matthew), even through the yard. How to feed Murphy and Maggie and pet them "easy."

Aside - Not many people in the Ukraine had dogs as pets so they are not exactly sure how to treat them. Most of the dogs we saw on the streets were very skittish which made us think they had been abused. So, the boys had to be taught how to have a pet that you did not abuse.

How not to just eat everything you see because you see it. How to eat what you do have slowly and one at a time. Jason would cram and entire handful of goldfish in his mouth and immediately stick his hand out for more. He is much better now. That everyone who has on a uniform is not the police - firemen, deliverymen, park rangers, etc. This list goes on and on.

Someone asked me what is the thing that they have just been overwhelmed by and thought was the coolest thing ever here in America. It is really hard to tell because everything is so different from what they experienced. We went shoe shopping at Southpoint, our first trip to a mall. I thought they would just be in awe but everyone of them down to the smallest acted like they had been shopping in malls all the time, which we know they have not because nothing like our malls even remotely exist in Ukraine, even in Kiev. Then the same week I took Matthew and Oksana to the hole-in-the-wall Hillsborough Post Office and they could not stop looking at everything. So, go figure what is going to put them in awe.

They are all doing very well with their English even though Oksana will not admit it. We beat the bushes and finally found a lady from Kiev who lives in Raleigh that does English lessons. So Monday's and Wednesday's we made the trek to Raleigh for lessons. She did not speak English that well but what she could do for us was explain the words in Ukrainian so that our guys could understand and we could practice the English with them at home and in the car. "I see a ..." and "I do not see a ..." were common phrases we spent, and still do spend, a lot of time with.

In June Matthew went to camp at the Finley YMCA in Raleigh for a week and had a fantastic time. As a matter of fact, he just took his bead necklace they gave him off last night. He has worn it night and day since the camp. After camp his English was amazingly better and he has continued to improve all summer long. To the point that there have been times when he has translated to Oksana for us. We could be saying something and tell that Matthew understood but Oksana did not and he would jump in and tell her what we meant.

One of the best things I bought was a set of children's songs on CD from Walmart. On the CD's are songs that help with counting and just good ole' children's songs. We learned our ABC's (#1) and the days of the week (#20) from this as well as counting to at least ten (that's how many monkey's were in the bed).

We went to Nana Camp twice (my mom and dad's). The cousins (Ty, Megan, Paige, Madison and Lindsay) have also been there and again after these visits and playing with the cousins their language abilities just jumped. Nana has a trampoline, golfcart (which Oksana and Matthew have now learned to drive), a seemingly unlimited supply of pop-ice and tons of fun things to play with outside. The trampoline was an instant hit and both Matthew and Oksana have learned to turn a forward flip. The second time at Nana Camp we went to Sliding Rock in Pisgah National Forest and that was also a ton of fun.

Jason started day-care July 14th. I thought I would be able to tell a difference in how busy I was from day to day but I honestly could not, except that I could go to the bathroom without him marking on the door in red marker. Jason has slowed down a lot since he got here. Don't get me wrong - he is still very "busy," but now he will "play," rather than destroy, something on his own.

Matthew started Kindergarten at Leesville Elementary in July. This is his fourth week of school. His teacher's name is Mrs. Kelley and he loves her and school. He does still need to learn to use his "inside voice" during center time but is working on learning to write his letters and numbers. We decided to put Matthew in Kindergarten even though he is a little older because he needs what Kindergarten has to offer, learning to work in centers, learning to share and work with others, waiting our turn to talk, etc...

Oksana will start 7th grade at Leesville Middle School on August 25th. She is nervous about her language skills. We are too. She is going to camp at the Finley YMCA this week, today was day one, and had a terriffic time. Hopefully this week will give her some confidence with her language skills going into next week.

We also spent a great deal of time going to the doctor and dentist to get updated on our vaccinations and toothcare.

There are so many things I could tell you about the children, as I am sure those of you with children could tell about yours. Joe and I think that the children have made remarkable progress since they have been home but that the settling in process is still underway and may take a while to really be in place. Joe and I are also adjusting to having the quiet of our house shattered and think we are doing okay.

Again, Joe and I want to express our many and heartfelt thanks to those of you who have followed us on our journey with notes, e-mails, well-wishes, moral support, kind thoughts and well-wishes, clothes, gifts and gift cards. All have been greatly appreciated in helping us start our new family.

Joe and Tonya signing off

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