We have been home 18 weeks now!! and here I promised an update long ago. It has been so long since I did an update, I almost forgot how!! Sorry! The kids are running around outside and I need to check on them every 2 minutes and I am waiting for a call from the International Adoption Clinic at the University, so I don't actually know how long this will be.
So much has happened since my last update, but I don't think I can write about (or even remember) everything. Some days it is tough, but there are so many good things to be thankful for and it is so much fun to see them learn new things everyday!
Some new things "we" have learned....
Bike riding and swings - I told you at 6 weeks that Ryan and Robin had mastered riding bike in the wintertime and now Jason has too. He threw his bike with the training wheels down the stairs and the wheels fell off, so he picked it up and rode it without the training wheels and has been going nonstop since! Jillian has not yet figured out how to pedal. She does push her trike around or run with her little legs going as fast as she can to keep up with the big kids. She has lots of bruises and scratches to show for it!! She has, however, learned to pump her legs on the swings and can get herself going and keep herself going - this just happened a couple of days ago and she is very proud of herself! She can also go hand over hand across the top of the swing set and can hang upside down on the crossbar as does everyone else. There is no longer any grass under our swingset! They play outside many hours of the day and are already getting tan.
School - we are doing school about a half hour to an hour a day. Not too much yet since we still have a language barrier and it is hard to explain concepts. The two oldest have learned their vowels and L, B, T, and N. They don't really understand yet that letters have sounds (and I think they all sound alike to them, especially the vowels), but Ryan is starting to get the sounds and points out letters at the grocery store, on book covers, and knows most of the alphabet. Things are going a little slower for Robin, but she didn't have any school in Ukraine, so this is all new to her, but they both have beautiful handwriting and can write their letters very well. Our other subject is numbers and they can count (sort of) to 20 - we keep working on it. They get hung up on 13 - in Russian, there is no "th" sound, so 13 sounds like 14 and then they skip 14 because they think they already said it...."firteen."
IAC at the U of M - International Adoption Clinic at the University. We got two of the kids in at the clinic early in May - Robin and Jason because we thought they had the most pressing issues and we take Ryan and Jillian next Friday. We learned a lot of stuff - it is almost overwhelming, but totally worth it. They marked almost every lab test on the lab order to run on the kids. So far, we know that Robin has hyperthyroid (as do I), but I was surprised a child would get it. We need to use iodized salt more (I never salt anything - I don't know why - I just don't - maybe a reason I have thyroid problems too). So now, we use it in pasta, potatoes, oatmeal, instant mashed potatoes, anything "normal" people us it in!! ;-) So hopefully when we re-test, that will be normal. They placed her Mantoux at the U, but they don't think it was read correctly at our clinic here, so we are going to re-do it when we bring the other two down. They don't see many positive Mantoux's up north here. A lot of Eastern Europeans have positive mantoux's even though they don't have active TB, because they are vaccinated with something that in the US we would use as a treatment, so they have false positives, but we are still working on getting a definitive diagnosis for her. She certainly doesn't have signs of active TB. As for Jason, he has two intestinal parasites, giardia - very common in EE and Chinese orphanage kids from contaminated water and entamoeba histolytica - and he needed an exotic treatment for these - it was their third choice in treatment because they coudn't get it up here and it costs $100 for 3 days of treatment. Hopefully that will be gone too when we re-test his stool samples - let me tell you, that is so much fun to do!! ;-) Also, they told us he is severely developmentally delayed - more like age 3 than 6 and is no where ready for kindergarten. He has speech issues and talks in a very rudimentary Russian (we have also been told this by several interpreters), and that will also affect how he learns English and they said he should know more English than he does for as long as he has been here... but there are four of them and they keep talking to each other in Russian and he doesn't "have" to learn English, so this is still slow going. They learn more English every day though. They also said he was small for his age - at 3% - and if he doesn't grow before his next checkup, they want him to see an endocrinologist for possible growth hormone shots - I don't know how I feel about that - I guess I will have to do a lot of research. Some of the problem may be the parasites, which also causes malnutrition and who knows how long he has had them. We should get a report in writing soon about all this and when we go down for the next two, we can ask more questions. They also did immunization titres, so we will know what vaccinations or re-vaccinations they need and will follow-up on that here in Aitkin.
Oh gosh, I have already written a book - sorry didn't mean to be so long-winded, but of couse lots more has happened!!
Yarina - Yarina is a friend of Pastor Stauters daughters. She met us at the airport when we came home with the kids and helped us talk to the kids about things we wanted to talk to them about and then came to our house for an afternoon in March. They told her they liked it here in America. They didn't say much - I think they felt intimidated in that situation, but did tell her they missed concerts at the orphanage and ice cream. I can remedy the ice cream - even though Ukrainian ice cream is really good, but I don't think I can do an orphanage concert. When she was outside, Robin would tell her she wanted to go back to the groupa - her group - Us - in the house. For quite a while she said "grupu" when she wanted to come in. At first I thought she was saying - poopoo or soomething!! ;-) It was nice to get some answers. Yarina told us she couldn't always understand them - they talk in baby talk or orphanage talk - they only say part of their words. Yarina was also able to tell them about prayer and we were able to start praying with them before meals. (Now, they won't eat without praying and even remind us somethimes and even when they are having pretend - play dough - meals, they want me to pray for them.) It was really nice to see her again and get to know her better.
Inna - Inna is a lady we met the year we went on our first mission trip to UA. She recommended that her brother be Korey's translater and he was - Andriy. We really liked Andriy and stayed with them for a few days on our second trip. Inna e-mailed us and said God placed it on her heart to come help us for a couple of weeks. She was staying in Texas with some friends helping them with their children and a difficult pregnancy. She came in April for two weeks over Easter and spent some time with Pastor Randy (She had been a new translator for him and his girls on one of their mission trips) and spent Easter with her cousin in Cambridge who is married to an American. Otherwise, she helped me with school and around the house. (I even walked right in to the sliding glass door, she got it so clean.) She was able to talk to the kids more in a less intimating way by being able to spend more time with them. They told her some things about their past. (Things I won't post here to protect their privacy.) It is so helpful to understand more about their background. It was really helpful to have Inna here, she helped me get started with school and could explain why and how we were doing school and could help explain boundaries in the yard, etc. On the last night, she read a Narnia book in Russian to them and one rainy day, they watched the Jesus film in Russian and she said mostly Robin had asked her about spiritual things and Ryan had told her that they did hear about Jesus in the orphanage. The rest of them had never heard about Jesus. Inna was able to tell them that the swear words they were saying were bad - they didn't even know that they were saying (and singing about) swear words and we haven't heard them since Inna left. They do, however, still say "durak" (stupid, fool) to each other sometimes, but definitely not as much as before Inna was here. She left to go back to Texas and will be leaving to learn Spanish and do some mission work in Guatemala sometime soon.
Well, I need to go, Monte is home and I want to spend some time with him - not much time to spend together anymore!! and I need to get supper on the table soon, but wanted to give you a "little" update - there is still so much to say!! "Talk" to you all again soon!! :-)