Monday, April 18, 2011

The Weekend

I can hardly believe the girls started their second week of school today. I know they felt the weekend flew by as they were busy with their first soccer match, meeting more relatives for the first time and their first full morning at church with Olena and Julia in children's church and Aimee sitting with us during the service.
Saturday morning was Olena and Aimee's first soccer game. They lost but had a lot of fun playing in their team jerseys. Following the game we had lunch at Stan's parents where the girls met Stan's Uncle Hank and Aunt Sally. A highlight of the visit was touring the RV that Hank and Sally came in. I can't remember how many times the girls simply said, "Wow!" (Aimee also said "Oh, my head!" a couple of times, an example of some more colloquial English that they are picking up.)
Sunday morning the girls met my parents for the first time as they had just arrived from India. They bounded right into Grandma and Grandpa's house and started exploring right away. When I first pointed to my mom and asked Olena who this was, she immediately came up with "Grandpa!" She had learned to say "Grandmother" and "Grandfather" in English class in Ukraine so these abbreviated names were a bit confusing at first. When we came back later for lunch, they cleaned out the play house and tried out the bikes they found in the garage with much enthusiasm. Olena has already ordered her birthday cake from Grandpa with "Aslan, Peter, Edmund, Lucy, and Susan."
She has become quite a fan the Chronicles of Narnia films. Another big hit in our home are the Anne of Green Gables movies. They love to recite with much giggling the scene where Anne is rescued by Gilbert (whom they call Yogurt for lack of better pronunciation)from under a bridge after her rowboat sinks.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

First day of school

Yesterday spring break ended for most kids and school started for ours. There was a little whining the night before, but they seemed ready to go in the morning. I think a lot had to do with the fact that they had been there 3 times already. They went once to meet their teachers. We all went on the day before Spring Break to watch a fun-filled limbo party (and Julia actually sat with her classmates on the floor near the action, three of which came up to us in the bleachers to get her -- you can see her on the right with sunglasses and a pink flower). Afterwards, we stopped at McDonald's for an ice cream and a quick visit to
the playland. Julie and the kids also went once during spring break for Aimee to explore her classroom.

(Maria had been introducing herself to new people as Aimee since her second week here, so we eventually had a talk and it seems pretty clear that she wants to be called that; we are actually pretty happy about that.)

So yesterday we all got in the car early enough to arrive about 15 minutes before the other kids and drop all 3 off in their classrooms before anyone but the teachers was there. They all seemed just
fine with letting us go.

In the afternoon, Julie got there early enough to pick them up in the foyer, get a quick report from each teacher, and help the kids to the right bus. Then she drove home alone so they could experience the whole bus ride as it normally would be. When they got home, there were lots of animated smiles and stories. In Aimee's words, school was "super, just like High School Musical". When I asked Olena how many friends she had, the count was 9. And Julia's first words were, "I ate ice cream today!" When she happily showed us how big it was, she sized it about a foot tall, although Aimee, who has lunch hour at the same time, assured us that this was not true.
This morning was rough though, probably because there had been some
talking and even switching beds until too late last night in the younger girls' room. Aimee was ready early and even reviewed words for a spelling test scheduled for
tomorrow, but the other two were pretty recalcitrant. Julie
had to dress Julia, and Olena spent enough time whining
instead of getting
ready that she had to
settle for flipflops when the bus arrived. A stressful morning for Mom (and Dad), but probably it will be a useful lesson and reference point. And... it turned into an awesome
day for the kids! There was nothing but positive comments today, and even more excited stories. All three of them have obviously better English than they did at
the beginning of the week; probably the immersion is bringing out a lot that they had already absorbed earlier. Olena asked me after supper to help her with a project: on her first try, she was able to read the names of about half of the 21 kids in her classroom, and we quickly narrowed the rest down to 4 and worked on those for a while.

Friday, March 25, 2011

This week the girls all survived their physicals. In all there were 13 needle sticks for their blood work and immunizations. Unfortunately they weren't evenly distributed. Olena got away with only two needle sticks. The other two, of course had a few more.
After Olena's and Julia's physicals we did some fun stuff to sweeten the deal. On Thursday afternoon we visited some friends who live near the pediatrician's office. The girls got to play on the playground of the nearby school with them. Swings were the favorite, but playing soccer and basketball also provided lots of smiles and laughter.

After the last physical today, we dropped in on Stan's mom for lunch. The girls thoroughly enjoyed eating fish sticks, pickles, noodles, tomatoes, and green beans with their Baba. The highlight of the afternoon was a shopping trip to Kohl's with her. This is the first time they've actually been able to pick out clothing for themselves as I had to pick it out in Ukraine and since we've been in the States we've had lots of wonderful clothing items given to us. It was nice to finally see what they were interested in. The vast amount of choices were, of course, overwhelming but they did pretty well for the first time. After shopping we cashed in certificates for free ice cream cones at McDonald's provided by the lab from the pediatrician's office. All those needle sticks did have an upside.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Visit to the Doctor

Today we hurried through our morning lessons so we could eat lunch early then rush off to the pediatrician's office for a physical. The doctor only does one new patient physical per day, so today was Maria's turn. In the past month the girls have had a physical with the orphanage doctor, the U.S. Embassy approved doctor and now an American doctor. One of the main purposes of this physical was to review their immunization records and administer vaccinations needed before starting school. Maria needed four immunizations and a few blood tests. Although Maria was not very happy about all the needles, she did a good job sitting still. Ironically, the other girls were begging to get shots, too. I guess they don't want to miss out on anything. Their turn is coming later this week.
At dinner time Stan asked me what immunizations Maria had to get. I had started to reply, "Well, I think Hep A, Hep B. . ." when Julia interrupt in song, "C, D, E, F, G. . . H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P!" I'm sure Maria felt like she got the whole alphabet of immunizations today.
Julia, on the other hand is getting much better at singing the alphabet song. The first time I heard her sing it by herself at the orphanage she sang, "H, I, J, K, Olena, P."

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Busy Weekend

This weekend was full for all of us. It started early with Friday lunch with Aunt Beth and cousin Jeremy at McDonald's. The two older girls had been to a McDonald's before, but this was the first time for Julia. They timidly ate their happy meals and watched the other kids play. After the meal, however, cousin Jeremy helped coax them out and up the highest platforms on the playplace. It didn't take long for them to be thoroughly enjoying themselves.
After checking out the Disney movie 'High School Musical' from the library last week, the girls have watched it every day, sometimes more than once. When we found out that their cousin Alisa was trying out for her high school musical on Friday, we went over and crashed the audition with what is becoming known as Alisa's fan club. All three girls adore Alisa.

On Saturday while I was at the shower, Stan and the girls went to Uncle Pete's house and spent the afternoon with their boys, Will, Nathan, and Jeremy, and Amy's girls, Lily and Ellie. Although a little hesitant at first, each of them took at least one turn riding the horse. They met the cows, the rabbits, the dog, and cat. They enjoyed the warm weather while roasting hot dogs and
marshmallows.The girls love playing with cousin Lily. On Saturday they invented a game called 'Smush' which in
volves two girls sitting on a recliner and then the third one comes along and squishes her way in on
the same chair. This apparently entertained them for an extended period of time with many minutes of nonstop giggling.

After finding out that Mom, Aunt Beth, and Alisa had all been at church on Saturday afternoon, the girls began insisting on going to church on
Sunday morning. We weren't sure if they were ready to be in classrooms yet, but since they were enthusiastic about going, we decided to attend for the Sunday School hour. I went with Maria to her class where she decided to introduce herself as Aimee instead of Maria.
This may be the name she decides to go with in church and school contexts. We'll wait to see if this sticks.
Olena went to her class with cousin Alisa. They both seemed to enjoy the Sunday School hour. Olena come home with two packs of chewing gum, most of which was shared and enjoyed with her sisters on the ride home from church. Julia ended up with an enormous wad of gum in her cheek by the time we got home.
Stan went with Julia to her class. Julia had already been struggling some this morning as we were getting ready for church. She wasn't up to participating much during the class, but she was able to see what was happening in class from a safe distance with Papa.
Overall, they seemed to hold up well through all the social activities of the weekend.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Shower & Church Visit

Our adoption shower will be this Saturday, March 19th from 2-4 p.m. at Pleasant View Bible Church in the fellowship room. Things that would be useful to us are posted on the Ukrainian Princesses blog. The girls won't be there as this type of event is one thing that usually proves to be overwhelming for newly adopted kids.
Last night we visited church with the girls so they could meet the families of our small group and see what their Wednesday night classrooms look like. We came late so we could make an abbreviated first visit. They were excited that their cousin, Alisa could show them around.
When we first drove up to church, they were a little freaked out by the cemetery that is located beside the old church building. It took some time to answer questions and calm them down. After we went inside the new building I had motioned for them to be quiet as we went downstairs towards where our small group meets. Maria's eyes got big as she asked, "What's down there?" I don't know if she was expecting a crypt.
They met the adults in our small group, then saw their classrooms and finally met the kids from our small group. By the end of the evening, they were clinging to me and asking to go home. Although they were a bit overwhelmed by the end of the visit, they had the trip home to calm down. When we got home we pulled out the church directory and to our surprise, they were able to pick out nearly everyone they saw, even if they didn't remember many names.
So far today, no major meltdowns (although Maria asked to take a nap at 11:00 am this morning - strange!) so it seems like our first visit was a success.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Craft and Games

Today we made a little more progress in the English language. Have you ever tried to sound out the word "one?" English doesn't make much sense at all.

This afternoon we did a craft with newspaper. We folded strips and wove them around a paper towel roll to make baskets.
Another first today was playing Sorry. We don't have the whole game mastered yet, but we have the basics down.