Saturday, April 18, 2009

Easter Baking

The week before Easter we made sugar cookies one day after school. I'm not a fan of messes (especially times 4), but I don't let it stop us from doing fun and memorable family things.

First everyone took a spot around the kitchen island and we passed the bowl. Everyone got to add an ingredient or two.

Keaton helped with clean up.

Then we waited for the dough to chill before we cut the cookies. Since it is not everyday you get to see a stormtrooper in an apron I thought I would share.

After the cookies baked, the real mess, I mean fun, started!

They came out very bright and cheery. Topped with plenty of frosting and sprinkles!

Eating the cookies inside is where I draw the line though. They enjoyed their first tastes on the front porch. :)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Sweet Brothers

Over spring break the boys asked if Tate could sleep in Julian's room with him one night. We were happy to let him. I put the kids to bed a little later than usual (all week, lovin' that part) and the boys were still chatting in bed about an hour later. I was about to tell them it was time to quiet down and get to sleep when I stopped outside the door to hear what a 5 year old and newly 8 year old could possibly be discussing for so long. Here is what I heard:

(I will preface this by saying that all 4 of the kids have been very inquisitive about God, Jesus, and heaven lately.)

Tate: Brat (Russian word for brother), when Mom and Pop get old are they going up?

Julian: Yep.

Tate: Brat, up there they have lots of castles and cheeseburgers!

Julian: No, Tate. Not cheeseburgers. Better than cheeseburgers!

Tate: Oh! It will be really big and nice, like our house.

Julian: No, Tate. It will be better than our house.

Tate: Oh? Like what?

Julian: Better than we can think, Tate.

How sweet is that?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Long Time, No Blog

Hi everyone! Long time, no updates. I am pleased to say I have been so busy loving my family that I just haven't really had time to sit down and blog. I think of things throughout the day that I want to post about but by the time everyone is tucked away for the night, I am tuckered out! Life is good. God is good.

The thought of trying to catch up with my posts was a bit overwhelming and with so many other things I need to get done for the sake of my family I just didn't like adding 10 posts to the list. So I will see what I can do to keep up to date in the present while sharing some of the last couple months as well.

The kids are doing great. They haven't even been home with us for 9 months yet, and they are just doing so well.

I feel bad for not having taken the time to personally address some of the questions that I am asked, some of which I post and many that I don't. I don't post most of them because they come with email addresses and I don't know if people want them posted really anyway, so I am going to post what I can right here.

We did not use an agency to adopt, we adopted independently and worked with Kostya Farkovets through Ukraine Christian Adoption. I would call Kostya a full service facilitator. He answered any questions he could and I can't really imagine an agency could have done much more for us. He knew the US side of the paperwork nearly as well as the Ukraine side, and helped wherever he could. I would highly recommend him and his team and would use them again in an instant were we to decide to adopt from Ukraine again. Kostya certainly didn't sugar coat anything. I appreciated his honesty on the good days and when he was helping us navigate the bumps in the road. He worked hard for us, day and night, was a friend to us, a partner in prayer, a tour guide, a home away from home, and a brother. There is no easy way to adopt from Ukraine. It isn't a cake walk. I believe that you have to feel called there. We felt for many years that at least one of our children was in Ukraine. I believe that our faith served us well in our adoption journey. We tried to be as easygoing and open minded as we could be and that made the trip flow much smoother than it might have otherwise. We may even be one of the few families who really enjoyed our time in Ukraine, loved most all of the people we met there, tried to embrace the culture. There were more similarities between the way that we live and the way that they live than I thought there would be and I felt very at home there. Much of the trip even felt like an adventure and a vacation to us. We would love to visit again someday and I know that our kids would love to go back too.

Another thing that some people have asked is how the first weeks home went. I imagine it compares to having a new baby or two around the house. I was exhausted. We were adjusting to a new time clock, we had tons of new things and no place to put any of it, the laundry was suddenly tripled, I was ready to sleep when the kids were ready to be up and at 'em, and we wanted to introduce them to everyone while we were still getting to know them ourselves. Not to mention their reactions! I don't think that first week home was very fun, looking back on it. But it had to be done and we did our best.

I feel like 8 1/2 months in we are settled in pretty well and I feel like I get a step closer to being an organized mom every day. The things I am working on are patience, knowing when to discipline and when to let it go, and balancing my time so that I can get what needs to get done around here accomplished while still having plenty of quality time with the kids. I love holidays and I am so looking forward to the summer. We just all love to be together. We always make time to sit down in the dining room at dinner and we have family time in the evenings. Our bedtime routine is important for all of us and we try to have at least one formal family Bible study a week, though things come up throughout each day and we talk about them then and there.

Really the best advice I can give to new adoptive parents is to play it by ear. There is no one right way. We didn't keep their world small 100% of the time. We needed to get out for lots of reasons. We did try to have a routine though because the kids were very used to that. We took them shopping early on, but didn't go crazy. I didn't take them to the market with me, but I would take a couple with me when I went out to shop or run other errands. We held off on going to church for a while. Even when we started going (I believe it was month 3 or 4?) it was fairly overwhelming to the kids and the three older ones had been in school for a few months by then. We figured out pretty quickly that Tate couldn't handle Sunday school. Too similar to his detsky dom environment we think and he couldn't do it. He still sits in the adult service unless he is joining me when I teach Sunday school.

I am hoping this is the first of many posts this month, but time will tell. The kids are growing like weeds (though Lily and Tate are not really on the charts yet), they are all doing well academically, they continue to amaze us with how they have taken to life on the other side of the world, and they have a zest for life that you rarely see in anyone. We are nearly done with all the dental work that they needed and we are all very happy about that, though we do miss our life savings. ;) They have very few issues that you would expect from post institutionalized kids and nothing any bigger than any other kid we might have raised from birth. I always say that their adaptation is a credit to the fact that kids were meant to be raised in a loving family. It certainly isn't our perfect parenting. I am still learning the ropes. I remind them daily that everyone makes mistakes and we are learning to be a family together. I certainly don't want them to think that Kevin and I think we do everything right. I try to point out when I don't, in fact.

I didn't sit down to write this post and I am not taking the time right now to look over it. It just kind of happened. I am sure that doesn't flow too well, but it may just be helpful to another adoptive or preadoptive parent in one way or another so here it is. :)

And because what the relatives really want to see are pictures, here is one to tide you over until I have time to sort through the thousands (yep, I take that many) that I have taken in the last couple months.

Here they are after church on Easter.