Sunday, May 29, 2011

Quick Update!

Just wanted to add to my earlier post.... we had another missionary discussion tonight and both boys want to be baptized!  It is an exciting time! 
 It was also Jason's 14th birthday this week.

 We had dinner, snacks and soda at the falls before we went for our walk

 I love this...see we have plenty of bars...we must be on the Family Plan!
 Different angle.  This is at the base of the Waterfall.  It is so pretty in the Provo Canyon.
 Another good shot.  Nothing like a great pose!
 What a fun group of kids.  We really have the best time together!
 Andy turned around and got this one of me.  Just behind me is the raging Provo River.  It is unbelievably high and unbelievably fast moving.
 I turned to look at Vitaliy as we were walking and he had his shorts pulled up really high like a geek.  So, of course, everyone had to do it!
 Jackson took this picture today and I thought he did a really good job.  Well, you didn't see the dozens that I had to delete and of course the cute pictures of his feet or the extreme close up of his face that I just have to keep because they are so cute.  He is quite the little photographer!

We have had another Missionary Discussion and it went really well.  We didn't end up having an interpreter show up so Angie, our amazing friend who is fluent in Russian, came at a moment's notice and did an amazing job interpreting for us.  (Thanks Angie...we always appreciate you and think you are amazing!)  The boys were very responsive and it was great.  The missionaries talked about how the Church was off the Earth for a while after the disciples all were gone and how it was restored during the restoration by Joseph Smith.  I get a little nervous during the discussions.  I am so afraid that the boys are going to stand up and say, "Whatever!" but that doesn't happen.  I shouldn't worry.  I need to keep remembering that it is the Spirit that is there teaching them and it is through the Spirit, if they are listening, that will confirm the truth of it all to them. 

Sasha had a difficult start to the week in school and had a few too many trips to the Principals office.  Actually that may have been last week.  I can't remember anymore.  I do know that by mid to end of the week, he was doing much, much better.  He is doing really well and his English is getting better everyday.  He has been asking me questions in English and does his very best to always talk to me in English.  I am very happy for him.  He loves to eat.  Andy and I bought two big bunches of bananas and by the afternoon, we were down to two bananas.  I couldn't believe it.  We kind of felt sorry for Sasha because that many bananas at once can do a number on your innerds! 

Vitaliy is also doing well in school and does not have any behavioral problems.  He doesn't say, "That's no fair" anymore because the last time he said it I about went through the roof.  I was so tired of hearing it and I made that very clear.  His attitude is more positive each day.  I often ask him how he is doing and he would say things like, "Not good" or "I don't know".  He was always kidding around but it was getting old.  I talked to him about being more positive.  I told him that a positive attitude attracts positive.  So now he is answering "good" and other things like that.  I like that.  He has been doing chores without complaint.  Although, honestly, I haven't given him full blown chores yet.  I have been easing him into it, kind of like the frog in the pot of water.  Works pretty good I must admit.  Vitaliy's English is very good and there is only need of a translator during the missionary discussions.  We could probably do those without an interpreter for him but they would take twice as long.  Today during Sacrament meeting he and I had a quick lesson on the bread and water and what it represents.  Of course, he already knew that, because you know he knows everything about Jesus.  It was still a good review though. 

Summer vacation from school is almost here and we are a bit concerned that the kids are going to eat us out of house and home.  We had to set a few rules about food.  For example, everyone has to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner.  And, a meal does not mean a half a loaf of bread.  Make a sandwich, don't just eat the bread.  Also, cereal is only a breakfast food and is not an all day grazing meal.  Like I said, we are a little worried.  I wish I had more cupboard space in the kitchen so I could hide a few things. 

We finally sold our truck (we had payments on that) and our Denali.  We had already bought an older 15-passenger van (ugh!!!).  It really isn't too bad to ride in.  It has a ton of miles on it but we are hoping to get some family trips out of it.  Then we were able to buy a little VW Beetle for me to kick around in for all the errand running.  Let me tell you, that car is way fun and oh so cute!  It is also older, not the way old style, it is the New Beetle style, but we managed to get one that didn't have too many miles on it.  Hopefully we can keep them all running good.  But, I have to say that we are a favorite client of our mechanic.  He told me once that he liked us so much that we are on his speed dial list.  If anyone needs a good mechanic, I can give you a good reference.

I celebrated my birthday this week and we all went to Bridle Veil Falls and took a fun walk on the trial.  It was nice to be able to go in one vehicle as a family somewhere together.  The Provo River is crazy right now so I was a bit panicky on  the walk.  I pointed out the river to both Sasha and Vitaliy and then took my finger to my throat like I was slitting my throat.  I just wanted them to know how dangerous the River could be.  It was a great night and I enjoyed my birthday with everyone.

My favorite moment of the week this week was while driving in the car.  I was in the passenger seat and Sasha was in the seat behind the driver.  I turned around and smiled at him and he was all smiles back at me.  In the moment I looked at him I felt so much love for him and I can totally feel that he knew how much I loved him and how happy it made him.  All that in a moments glance.  I absolutely loved that moment and it brought tears to my eyes. 

Still working on rules of the house:

Again - we want you to not be hungry but you cannot constantly eat throughout the day.
You can ride your bike but when it is dark, you have to stop
Just because someone accidentally bumps or knocks into to you does not give you the right to attack
You need to eat what I give you because I know it is better than what you ate in Ukraine
and my favorite and the one that hasn't gotten better doesn't matter what anyone else is doing, just be concerned with yourself!

The boys are both very happy and it is obvious that they are both very glad to be part of a family that loves them so much.  It has been a good week and I can see improvement in so many areas as time passes on.  We appreciate all our family and friends who love and care for us so much.  If it weren't for you guys, life would be a lot harder to get through!!!!  We love you all!!!!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Missionary Discussions

 Jackson is a character!  He took my camera and he and Cali took pictures of all kinds of things around the house including a permanent marker, paper airplane and the conference center picture in the Ensign.
 Vitaliy hates his picture taken and it drives me NUTS!

 They were playing ring around the rosie and duck, duck goose and I took their picture.
 Again, Sasha does many self portraits!
 Jenae and Cali had their annual gymnastics recital on Saturday.  It was awesome but Jenae hurt her heel and had to sit out for the rest of the day.  She was supposed to repeat her routines for every recital throughout the day and couldn't.  She was so disappointed.
 This is bedtime at our house
 He fell asleep before we could get a picture
 See, Tyler doesn't mind having his picture taken even if I have hundreds and thousands of them already.
 Dusty is obviously just giddy about his picture being taken!
 But NOOOOOO, I had to fight tooth and nail to take this one!  He may look happy in this picture but he did not want me to take his picture.  Honestly, what is the big deal anyway!

I just wanted to make a quick update.  We had our second Missionary Discussion tonight and it was awesome.  Our Ward Mission leader found a resource through the language department at BYU and we have been able to get two different translators who recently served in Ukraine.  Our translator tonight was absolutely amazing.  He translated the Discussion to the boys and made sure to help them really understand.  Sasha has a much harder time participating but our translator, Dallin, really worked with him.  The boys were very receptive, especially Vitaliy.  We asked him what he likes about going to Church and he said he liked it all.  He said there was nothing he didn't like.  Sasha was too shy to admit that he likes the singing time best.  I know this because I still sing primary songs to him at night when I put him to bed and he absolutely loves it.  Also, he doesn't always behave very well at Church.  He does, however, behave best during singing time.  It is not "manly" to sing in Ukraine so the boys will have to work into that one.  I told them that I thought it was okay if they didn't like to sing at Church.  I didn't like to for a very long time after joining the Church either.

Vitaliy knows a lot about the Bible stories.  In fact, I will quote him that he knows everything about Jesus.  Wow, he is humble, too!  Seriously, he does have a lot of knowledge about God and Jesus and he interacted a lot during the discussion.  

At the end of our discussion, Andy asked Vitaliy if he wanted to say the closing prayer and he did.  After he decided that he would he immediately dropped to his knees and we all followed.  He said a beautiful prayer.  He sounded so sweet as I heard the word "spaceba" over and over during his prayer.  Dallin told us afterward that he thanked Heavenly Father for his new family and he told Heavenly Father that he loved his new family because they loved him.  It was really touching.  

After the Missionaries left this time and the time before, Vitaliy's mood was really happy.  He is normally happy, but it is definitely a special happy.  So far so good!  Dallin won't be able to translate for the next two times, we will have to use someone else for those.  He made a GREAT connection with the boys so he will be coming back after Memorial Day weekend.

I was just so excited about how the discussions were going that I wanted to share that with everyone!  Thanks for listening, caring and loving our family!!!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A wolf in sheep's clothing or the other way around!?!

 Still always happy! (well, not when I tell him no, which can be often)

 Just hanging out!
 This is my mom, daughter Tiffany and me!
 Andy and Vitaliy have the same birthday.  We had fifteen candles on Vitaliy's side and not enough on Andy's
 This is my Mother's Day picture.  We really need to have a family picture taken.
 We went to Hope of American.  Jenae was in it...see, she is the one wearing white!
 So, so, so very cute!
 So, so, so cute in a teenager sort of way!
 This was at the end of Hope of America.  I thought about leaving some kids home because Andy was working and I would be taking nine kids to a huge stadium for a long performance - you know what I am talking about - but hey, I have done harder things than this, it was a piece of cake!  (Jackson was a little tired here)

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged, but honestly, it doesn’t feel like it.  Time is going by faster than I can keep up with.  Let me try to catch up on things.

Sasha started school a couple weeks ago.  I was working with him at home and taking him to school for computer work on Imagine Learning, but could tell he really needed to go to school.  Seeing that he has no real formal education and his behavior can match that, I felt like I was sending him to the wolves or vice versa depending on how you look at it.  I felt like I was sending a kindergartner into fourth grade.  At the same time, I felt like I was sending a slightly wild child into a somewhat calm and organized classroom…and so it was!

It has turned out to be a great thing though.  I have been working with the teacher and principal to find the best ways to help him learn how to behave in school.  After two weeks, he is starting to come around.  The other kids really like him and he is somewhat of a celebrity at school.  Even I have increased in popularity with the kids.  For some reason when I walk around the school the kids seem to know that I am Sasha’s mom.  It’s fun.  Hopefully it is just as much fun for him.  He seems to enjoy school and loves to walk to school in the morning with the other kids. 

Vitaliy is really enjoying school and still comes home happy every day.  Now that the weather is mostly better all the kids play outside a lot and bike ride a lot.  That is a favorite pastime for sure. 

We are coming across interesting teaching moments and behavior that drives me crazy.  Our first big crisis was when we gave all the older boys yard work to do.  They all have their jobs.  Vitaliy was the first to point out to me (like it should be a surprise to me) that Sasha was not doing as much as he was doing.  Go figure…a ten-year-old’s work is easier than a 15-year-old?!  Well, he plopped himself down on the couch when he thought he was done and said that it wasn’t fair.  Well, by this time I had held back several annoying behavior traits and that was really the last straw.  Well, Vitaliy came face to face with the “Mom Finger” as I ‘passionately’ explained to him that he is not the parent and life is not fair.  There are ten-year-old chores and there are fifteen-year-old chores and he better knock it off and just go to work.  He pouted for most of the afternoon.  I did have a talk about an hour later with him that included that ‘love after discipline’ stuff but the pouting continued.  Ugh!!! I didn’t like it and I know he didn’t either.  I thought, okay here we go, here is all that stuff people talked about. 

About an hour or so later we were headed out on a family walk when he walked passed me and hesitated.  There was my in… I told him that he needed to be happy and that chores were a part of our lives and that I loved him.  He came over to me, gave me a kiss and told me that he loved me very much.  Whew, it was over. 

We have had other issues like, “he hit me first”.  Well, “it doesn’t matter who hit first, what matters is that you come to tell me, you don’t hit or kick him back”.  For some reason that is a new concept for a kid in any country. 

We are all learning.  Some of us are learning “rules of the house” and “rules on behavior” and believe it or not, gratitude (which honestly you would think would be easy for them but it is not).  Others of us are learning patience, tolerance and I have to throw in there – long suffering. 

Things really are going good though.  Vitaliy’s English is very good and it is fairly easy to have a conversation with him.  Sasha is learning English a little slower but he is learning it.  He is learning a lot of English by mimicking.  It is fun to hear the phrases that he loves to say, “Cali, Jackson – stop it” – things like that.  Sometimes it is an eye opener to me to hear what he says and then I think, “do I really sound like that?” 

They are slowly learning to do the simple things that we take for granted.  For example, change your socks every day, shower more than once a week, there is no need to keep food in my pocket, not everything belongs to me, everything I do is not a contest to see who can win (well, that haven’t really learned that one yet).

MOMENT OF THE LAST COUPLE OF WEEKS – There are a few (well it has been a few weeks):

1 – We had our first family night lesson on faith and it was mostly understood…that was cool.

2 – The phone rang and it was actually for Vitaliy, it was strange, but cool.

3 – I still get love, hugs and kisses every day, throughout the day, and lots of “I Love You’s”!

STRANGEST FOOD – (well, besides oatmeal and catsup) – Sasha made himself an American cheese sandwich with grape jam….and….came back for seconds.

The boys also went to the Father’s and Son’s campout and had a blast.  They did a Fear Factor activity and Vitaliy put three snakes down his shirt and did jumping jacks….he won!  The next thing was to eat this very, very salted fish.  Well, need I say more?  I saw what they ate in Ukraine and that was nothing.  They both ate it and Sasha actually really liked it!

Life is still good….busy…..very busy…..incredibly busy… I can get nothing accomplished busy… but it’s still good!!!!!