Not my will, but your's be done.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

My Blessings

A friend/relative gave us a photo shoot with a photographer that she knows.  I just got the disk in the mail today and I thought I'd share...

Children are a blessing.  And so are thoughtful friends who give you the priceless gift of capturing your children's beautiful smiles forever in a photograph.

Q and A: Homeschooling and Miscellaneous

Now for the second installment of the Q and A post...

What ages are your kids?
Lucas Alan-8.5, Alik Reid-5.5, Danil Dawson-5, Raylen Jayne-4.5, Josslyn Alina-3, Kellen Beck-18mths.

The femur is a hard bone to break.  Do you know if Josslyn might have some other health issue going on that caused her bones to be weakened?
While we were at Texas's Children's Hospital for Josslyn's leg, they did blood work to check that out.  I never heard the results, but I'm assuming they were normal or I would have gotten a call by now.  I wouldn't automatically assume that with every doctor, but TCH is on the ball.

What curriculum do you use?
Little bit of this, little bit of that.
Seriously though, we are kind of a mutt.  For pre-school I am using Answers in Genesis pre-k curriculum.  It if my first time to use it, but I'm really liking it.  It covers all subjects and is heavy in the Bible department.
For Luke:
-Abeka for phonics/language arts, spelling, reading, poetry, handwriting,
-Saxon for math
-Answers in Genesis for science
-For history and geography I am pulling from several different sources I have, including, but not limited to, Abeka, the Light and the Glory for children, Galloping the Globe, the internet, Rod and Staff... We are studying American history right now, so our geography is revolving around that also, for the most part.
-I also have several different workbooks that I get his seatwork from.

Do your children have a chore system?
You betcha!  Luke, Ray, and Alik have chores they do before breakfast.  Luke feeds and waters the dog and unloads the dishwasher.  Ray feeds and waters the cat and unloads the silverwear from the dishwasher.  Alik empties the bathroom garbage cans in to the big garbage can and puts new bags in.  Danil's chore is to unload the clothes from the dryer and bring them to the couch.  Kellen usually helps him with this.  Luke, Alik, Ray, and Josslyn all make their beds before breakfast and fold and put up their pj's.  Danil also folds and puts up his pj's, but he doesn't make his bed because he sleeps with no covers so there is nothing to make up.  Josslyn is the only one without set chores, but that girl loves to clean.  She is my side kick.  She loves to fold laundry and is really good at folding rags, hand towels, kitchen towels, and small undies.  So she generally folds that stuff.  She will fold ALL the laundry, if I let her, I just end up having to re-fold alot of it.  If she is around when I'm doing house work(if she's awake, then she's around), then I usually give her a feather duster or dry rag and let her clean along with me.  She LOVES the feather duster and will dust everything.  Including her siblings, if they let her.
My children are also responsible for keeping their rooms neat and tidy.  I work hard at having a particular place for all their things.  They are well aware that if they can't keep their things picked up, then mom is going to chunk it.  As a part of our before nap and before bed routine, the kids pick up all their toys and put them away.  This has helped to eliminate alot of stress in my life.  Mess and clutter stress me out.
As my kids get older and their abilities increase, so will their chore load.  We are a family, and a family is a team, so that means we all work together for the greater good of the whole family.

What does family worship look like in your home?
In the evening, the last thing before the kids go to bed is when we have family worship. When Josh is not working nights, the kids recite any scripture they are learning for him and go over their catechisms for him.  I have found, that with so many little ones, what works for us right now is learning our scripture and catchisms over breakfast.  In time that may change, but for now that is what is working best.  It also insures that our day gets started off on the right foot.  Having family worship right before the kids go to bed, helps to end the day on the right note also.  I tend to get stressed in the evenings, so it is a good reminder to me to chill out and focus on what matters.  I also like that the kids go to bed with Godly things on their mind.  Besides scripture and catchisms, the kids also talk about what Bible story or scripture passage we read at breakfast and or/in school.  We usually sing.  And we always share prayer requests and then close our time with prayer.  We encourage, but don't force, our kids to pray out loud, especially if they have voiced a particular prayer request that is on their heart.  Ray is our praiser, and will thank God for everything under the sun, and then thank Him for the sun.  I love her grateful heart.  When I listen to her pray I am always reminded to praise more and request less. 
Luke's Spanish pronunciation is awesome(in the 6 Kids: On a Swing Set post).  Does he speak more Spanish?
No, but he was throughly immpressed that someone thought so.  The only other Spanish he knows is counting to ten and a couple of other random words.  I would love for us all to learn.  If any of you know of a good curriculum for teaching children(and their mother) Spanish I'd love to know.  We live in Southeast Texas, so Spanish would be a valuable language to know.

What were your children's full birth names?
For privacy reasons, I don't wish to share their full birth names.  I will say that Danil's name was Tymur(pronounced Tee-moor), Alik's name was Oleg, and Josslyn's name was Lena.  Lena is a beautiful name, and after meeting her and was very drawn to keeping her name Lena, but I never had a peace about it.  As it turns out, our good friends, the Hazleton's are in the process of bringing home a Lena, so everything worked out like it should.  It might have gotten confussing with two Ukrainian Lena's running around together.  Plus, Josslyn adores her name now and it fits her perfectly.
Here is some interesting info about the children's birth names.  In Ukraine, your middle name comes from your father.  Since Alik and Josslyn were abandoned at birth, the hospital picked their first names, and then gave them their mothers last and middle name.  Danil went home from the hospital with his parents, but was given up several months later.  His full name was choosen by his parents.  Just a little tid bit you might be interested in.

Will you adopt again?  Do you plan on having more biological children?
Isn't that the million dollar question??  Or $35,000 question, if we are talking about adopting again.  I don't really have an answer for you on this one.  Josh and I are fully surrendered to what ever God has in store for us in the future.  I honestly have no clue what that will be.  More biological children?  Maybe.  More adopted children?  I would be shocked if the answer to that is no.  Right now we are not actively pursuing either of those methods for enlarging our family, but you never know when God will drop a bomb on you and rock your world.  It's always when you least expect it.  Kind of exciting to think about what the future could hold. 

Any advice on whether to adopt 2 at once, or do two separate adoptions several years apart?
My best advice on that is pray, pray, pray about it....and then pray some more.  Your best option is to go where God leads, even if that means only adopting one when you would rather adopt two, OR adopting two at once even if it is scary.  I have a very neat story about an awesome couple that wanted to adopt two children, but God said no, only one right now.  If they had not choosen to obey, then our adoption story would have been written very differently.  I thank God every time I think about it, that they chose to obey, even though it made no sense at the time.  WE also have a neat story about options we considered when we were praying about adding a child to our adoption.  If we had made the logical choice, not the GOD choice, then the Hazleton's story would have been very different and my sweet Josslyn would still be sitting in an orphanage in Ukraine, unable to be adopted because of the changes in the law since we brought her home.  Whew!  Praise God for saving me from myself!
Anyway, all those stories are for another day.  I brought all that up to say, pray about it and go where the Lord leads.  If/when God calls us to adopt again, we will undoubtably be open to adopting more than one at a time.  It has been an excellent experience for us, but it is because we obeyed, not neccessarily because we adopted more than one at a time.

If you could pick one child from Reece's Rainbow that you met when you traveled for your adoption to find a family, who would it be?
SHEESH!! Slap a hard one on me, why dontcha!  Well, thankfully, several of the children we met that are available for adoption through RR have found families.  Kirk and Lori(Anton and Lena Hazleton, now!!), would have definitely have been children that I would be dying to go back for, if God had not called the Hazleton's to adopt them.  Right now, orphans with HIV under 5 years old are not able to be adopted.  This is very very heartbreaking to me, because we met SO MANY sweet, beautiful, and wonderful children.  Many of the children in Josslyn's groupa were listed on RR right after we adopted Joss.  Right now, there are a few children listed on RR from my kid's orphanage, but we did not meet any of those.  All the ones we met that do not have families have been removed from the website(hopefully temporarily), because they are not currently available.  It is truly a tragedy.

Well, I really didn't mean to end this post on a sour note like that, it just turned out that way.  I guess that is something that I would like to ask you to pray for, that the adoption laws in Ukraine be revised and the list of "special needs" be expanded.  They have a very minute chance of being adopted in their own country, so would ask that you fervently pray that the laws are changed in order to give them some sort of fighting chance.

I plan on updating on how school is going and how Joss is doing later this week.  Josh is off the next 3 days though, so I might not get to it until he goes back to work.  He has been working nights and I miss him!

Have a great day!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Q and A:HIV

The Q and A I mentioned a while back has been a long time coming, eh?  You probably thought that I had forgetten all together.  Once I started writing down all the questions that were asked by various readers, I realized that there were so many that I should break it up in to two different posts.  This post will just be questions related to HIV.  The next post, which will hopefully be published tomorrow, will address homeschooling and other miscellaneous questions.

Has HIV been easier or harder to manage than you anticipated?
Overall, I can definitely say that it has been easier.  Before we brought Alik and Josslyn home I had done alot of research and talking with other parents who have adopted children with HIV.  I was very familiar with what the daily routine looked like, in regards to having a child with HIV.  That part has pretty much been exactly like I anticipated.  The kids take medicine two times a day, and besides that, HIV isn't a issue in our daily life.  Ray and Danil both take daily medication too, and have to see doctors for their conditions, so
Alik and Josslyn's daily medication and 4 time a year doctor visit are no biggie at all.
Besides daily medication, the only other major difference that HIV has made in our life is that the children see a retrovirology specialist at Texas Children's Hospital.  Now we are at the point of just going to TCH every three months to have their bloodwork done.  So honestly, HIV is a super manageable "special need".  I do not at all consider Aik and Josslyn speical needs.  I DO however consider waiting orphans with HIV to be "special needs" just because of what the future holds for them if not adopted. 

Did you incur any out-of-pocket medical expenses, related to HIV, when you first got home with the kids?
The most major out-of-pocket medical expense we have had is meeting Alik, Danil, and Josslyn's insurance deductable.  This isn't a HIV related expense, because at TCH the retrovirology department(the department that deals with children with HIV), is connected to the department that deals with children who have been adopted internationally.  Whether or not the kids had HIV they would have gone to the same doctor, just to get a full check from people who deal daily with children who have been adopted internationally and the various issue that they might be dealing with(parasites, malnourishment, developmental delays, etc).  The only out-of-pocket expenses we have related to HIV are co-pays for the 4 time a year doctor visit and the kid's medication.  It has actually been much more affordable than I anticipated.

How did you family/friends react to the children's HIV status? 
We have been super blessed by our family being so supportive.  Overall, our family had a very positive reaction to Alik and Josslyn's HIV status.  A few close family members knew that adding a child with HIV to our adoption was something that we were praying about.  Those that didn't know(which was the majority of our family, handled the HIV part very well.  The main concern of the majority of our family was us being able to handle the addition of 3 more children at once.

We have had a few of our friends who had concerns, but they presented them with excellent attitudes, so that we could address their fears and answer their questions.  The concerns came from friends who had very young children and were not very familiar with HIV.  We would have been in that exact same catagory a year ago, if a close friend or family member of ours would have announced they were adopting a child with HIV.  Like I have mentioned before, until God called us to adopt a child with HIV, we were VERY uneducated about it.  I can honestly say that those in our life that did have concerns handled them much better than I probably would have if the rolls had been reversed.

Of course we had some aquaintances that did not take our news very well.  It was mostly people in our church that like to get hyped of over anything and everything and we were just the next bandwagon to jump on.  Josh and I fully expected that, and while our feelings were hurt by some of the comments made about our children, it was an opportunity for growth and to show grace....even though I wanted to give a few folks a piece of my mind. 

How open have you been about Alik and Josslyn's HIV status?  Is there anyone you wish you could un-tell?
We have been open about their HIV status.  We had many reasons for being open, but the deciding factor was, that after praying about it, that is what God gave us a peace about.  We knew that by choosing to be open, their would be bumps in the road, but Josh and I have both learned that obeying the Lord is always the best choice, even when it isn't the easiest choice. 
While we are "open" with the kids HIV status, we don't use it to lable them.  I talk very openly on my blog about all the different aspects of having a child with HIV, but I don't announce it to everyone we meet.  In day to day life I rarely bring up that the children have HIV.  I am totally comfortable with talking about it with people who know and have questions(I actually LIKE answering any questions related to HIV or our adoption), but I don't introduce Alik and Josslyn as being adopted and having HIV.  They are not defined by HIV or by the fact that they are adopted.  While both of those topics are open topics in our home and in our lives, they aren't defining characteristics of our children.  To me it would be like introducing Luke by saying, "Hi, this is my son, Luke.  My husband adopted him several years ago.  He is 8 and he has some learning difficulties, especially reading related, and also some attention deficit difficulties."  That sort of introduction would sound down right ridiculous.  Luke is not defined by any of those things, and neither are Alik and Josslyn.

Even though we have faced some negativity, there isn't anyone I wish I could "un-tell".

What precautions do you take, regarding Alik and Josslyn's HIV, especially since you have young children in your home?

Kidding.  Sorta.  Honestly though, we don't take any sort of special precautions.  I do pretty much all the cleaning and bandaging of real boo boos, but that was how things already worked around here.  I have never worn gloves while dealing with one of Alik or Josslyn's bloody boo boos.  Neither of them have had a gushing bleeding wound while I have had an open wound on my hand, so there has never been a need for gloves.  Our kids bathe together.  They share towels and rags.  We try to not share cups, but that is to prevent transmission of colds and not at all HIV related.  At times we DO share cups, but in general everyone has their own cup.  Also, Danil and Joss are MAJOR backwashers, so I would not subject anyone to having to share a cup with them....and their last meal.  Another thing we discourage sharing is toothbrushes.  My older 5 don't share at all.  Kellen tends to be the toothbrush thief though.  There is a very minimal chance that HIV can be transmitted via sharing a toothbrush.  HIV is a fragile virus and dies upon contact with the air, so the toothbrush(with blood on it) would have to go from one mouth to the other IMMEDIATELY, and even then the chance of transmission is VERY VERY minimal.  The reason we discourage sharing toothbrushes is more germ and cold related, than HIV related.  So, the only new precaution that we have instated in our home, since bringing Alik and Josslyn home, is the children are no longer allowed to share needles when they shoot up their heroin. *wink*

What does Alik and Josslyn's medication routine look like?
They take medicine twice a day. 7:30am and 7:30pm.  They take it great, so it is no big deal at all, just part of our routine.  Ray and Danil also take daily medication, once a day.  So in the morning all four of them take their meds at the same time.  In the evening, just Alik and Joss take theirs. 

So, twice a day meds and visits to the doctor 4 times a year for bloodwork is pretty much the extent to how HIV has affected our daily life(is it affect, or effect??  I can never remember...).  We have had some effects(we'll just use both so I know that I'm getting it right at least once!) from negative reactions from people at our old church, but those truly turned out to be opportunities for spiritual growth, and in retrospect I wouldn't change a single negative thing we've dealt with thus far.  God also used some of the naysayers to give us a nudge to move in a direction that God had been preparing us for over the past several years.  God is doing exciting things in our life, when we remember to step back, let go, and let Him work.

They next Q and A post should publish tomorrow, so if you have any more questions you still have time to slip 'em in!

Have a great school and/or work week!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Entertaining Myself

I'm pretty sure he is explaining quantum physics,
 or has the solution to world peace.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Kellen and Kids Praying

Josh is working nights this weekend.  When he works nights on the weekend I usually entertain myself with my many children.  Last night was Friday, and every Friday night(unless we have other plans) we watch a movie as a family and eat popcorn.  Last night we watched "Duma", which is a pretty good movie about a cheetah.  The kids all love animal movies, so this one was undoubtably a hit.  During the movie Kellen was being  Of course he toned it down as soon as I got out the video camera, but I thought I'd post this little video anyway. 
( Note, the other children who are not quite as amused with him as I am, since I paused the movie to video him.)

This second video is from later that night when we gathered in the girl's room to pray.  Luke prayed first and when he prayed for Josslyn's leg, Joss immediately joined in the prayer and prayed at length(I'm assuming she was also praying for her leg??).  After Luke prayed, Ray prayed.  Josslyn prayed all through Ray's prayer and continued after Ray was done.  No sooner had she finished than she remember another requests and started praying again.  It was so precious.  I finally decided that I needed to document it for Josh to see, so I went and got the video camera.  When I came back in the room with the camera she was praying again.  After I videoed her praying, Luke and Ray wanted to re-pray for Daddy to see too.
(Note, Luke prays that Daddy will bring doughnuts home in the morning for breakfast.)

Have a good rest of the weekend!  For those of you with kiddos, I hope you are enjoying yours as much as I'm enjoying mine! 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

My Gimpy Princess

Here are a few pictures of Josslyn from the past couple of days.

THIS is when Josslyn started to perk up. 
Notice how she is holding Ray's hand with one hand and clinging to her arm with the other hand.

Yes, Josslyn does haver writing on her leg.  While she was sleeping on the couch, Kellen so kindly drew on her with a dry erase marker.  Someone forgot to inform him that it was the OTHER leg he was supposed to sign.  Regardless, Josslyn was NOT happy about that.  He also drew on the couch in the recliner.  I was not happy about that.

Watching TV with Luke and Ray

I have mostly been feeding Josslyn, and she has been eating it up.  Litterally.  We have been having food issues with her lately(which I am sure I will post about in greater detail at some point), but now that I have been spoon feeding her, she is eating like a champ.  She just might put on some weight and bust outta that cast! 

In a hip carrier
Now that she is feeling better she wants to be up and all over the place.  She generally sticks pretty close to me through out the day, so now is no different.  For the most part she wants to be where ever I am.  Since I am all over the place alot of the day, I have been wearing her from time to time throughout the day.  The baby wearer in me has been loving it, and Josslyn thinks she is in heaven.  Works for both of us.

Sitting outside watching everyone play.

Being silly.
She is still typical Josslyn.  You whip out the camera and she starts posing.

After getting her hair washed and a spit bath(that's what we called it growing up...)
Her poor little hair gets so matted during the day with all the laying she does.  She this is the position I put her in while her hair dries.

Looking at books

She joined in on play time today

She thought her cast made a perfect train track

See Alik doting on her??
Alik was probably the most worried about Josslyn while she was in the hospital.  Today she had him bringing her every little toy she wanted.  He didn't mind a bit.  He is very sweet natured and sensitive to others.  And yes, that is a small room(all our rooms are small), but 6 children play very happily together, even in small rooms.


I'm sure you noticed the many positions I have been putting Josslyn in.  I keep thinking how sore and bored I would be if I had to lay on my back all the time, so I have been trying to provide her some variety.  She is doing excellent.  Her pain is minimal.  I'm quite amazed at how well she is doing.  Resilient.

Oh, one of you asked if Josslyn was in a spica cast.  After seeing the pictures, I'm sure you can see that her cast is a spica cast.  For those of you who had/have no idea what a spica cast is....well, that is what her kind of cast is called.  It covers one whole leg, wraps around her wasit, and goes down half her other leg.  Doesn't leave room for much mobility.  It would drive me absolutely crazy if I was the one having to wear it.  For those of you who are familiar with spica casts, I have a question.  She is supposed to have her cast for 6 weeks.  She goes back to the dr in 3 weeks.  At that appointment will she get a new cast?  And if she does get a new cast is it possible that it will be less of a cast than it is now?  Just curious.  Joss was still asleep from the anesthesa when I talked to the doctor, so I just listened to what he said and didn't really ask many questions.

Soon to come are two Q and A posts.  I was actually working on them less than10 minutes before Joss hurt her leg. 

Good night, ya'll!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Well I thought I was emotionally prepared to write this blog post.  Now that I actually sat down to do it, I feel my throat getting tight and my pulse start to beat faster.

The past several days have been tough ones here at the Carlin house.  Sunday evening Josslyn broke her leg.  We still aren't,(and may never be), exactly sure what happened.  We know that she fell in her room and was by herself when it happened, but beyond that the details are kind of sketchy.  Keep in mind, the details are coming from a very traumatized 3 year old that hasn't fully mastered the language and has definite speech issues.  Honestly, though, I'm not even sure if she knows exactly what happened.  We have given up questioning her because we just get the same answers and we hate to keep bringing up a sore subject.  Litterally.

I heard her fall and start crying.  Our house is on piers, so everything is loud.  When the kids play it sounds like a herd of elephants playing rugy.  Seriously.  So when I heard a THUD that was quickly followed by a "WAAAAAAAA!", I didn't neccessarily think that it was something serious.  Especially since I hear thuds followed by Josslyn crying many times a day.  Coordination and focus are not her strong suits, and that combination can be the cause of many boo boos for her throughout each and every day.  Even when she isn't falling/running into things and hurting herself, she is falling/running into things(or people) and not hurting herself.  90% of the "thuds" that I hear in our house are followed by either Josslyn crying, or Josslyn yelling, "UH-OH!!"  We joke that her middle name should have been Uh-Oh, instead of Alina.  When one of us hears her yell, "Uh-Oh!!" across the house, we giggle and say, "Josslyn Uh-Oh Carlin".
This particular "THUD", on this particular day, was a doozie. I could tell that her cry was a real cry, but my mama instincts still weren't alerting me that an injury out of the norm had just taken place.  I trotted in her room and saw her laying on the floor.  The way she was laying it looked like she had hit her head on the floor(which she had), so I thought that was why she was crying.  I picked her up under her arms and tried to stand her up.  When she tried to stand up she immediately let out a scream that I had never heard from her before and pulled her right leg up.  At this point I KNEW something was bad wrong.  I don't think I have ever heard any of my kids cry that kind of cry before.  And hopefully I never will again.  I picked her up like a baby and she just kept screaming.  Josh was in the kitchen and came quickly.  He took one look at her leg and said that he thought it was broken.  My brain turned into fuzz.  I tend to be pretty good under this sort of pressure, or atleast I had thought so up until this point.  But I guess I had never been under that sort of pressure.  We have never had a child have to have stitches.   No gushing bleeders.  No concusions.  And up until now, no broken bones. 

My fuzzy brain, that was starting to get tunnel vision, kept thinking, "Surely her leg isn't broken! How in the world could she have broken her leg?!"  But after about 60 seconds of Josslyn's screaming, it didn't matter what the problem was I wanted to get her to the emergency room and get her something for pain.  Josh quickly loaded all the kids up in the van and drove Josslyn and I to the ER.  The next 24 hours were some of the longest of  my life.  For my own sake, I'll sum it up without alot of details.

Josslyn broke her right femur(thigh bone).  She had to be transported by ambulance to Texas Children's Hospital.  At the first hospital(the local one), we were told that she was most likely going to have to have to get pins or screws surgically and to prepare to be in the hospital for a week.  Thankfully, TCH is the best.  They have excellent doctors who were able to set and cast her leg with out having to use pins.  Since there were no pins, we were able to go home on Monday afternoon. 

There are alot of grizzly details that I'm leaving out, mainly because I don't want to think about them long enough to write about it.  I'll just say that the whole thing was extremely traumatizing to Josslyn, and as a mother it is one of the worst things I've had to endure.  I don't think I have ever seen anyone in as much pain as she was in.  It would have been awful to witness a grown man who was a complete stranger in that much pain.  For it to be your daughter is almost unbearable.  They were giving her as much morphine as they safely could, without slowing down her respiration too much, and she was still in a great deal of pain.  I would sale everything I own and live in a box on the street, if it meant never having to see one of my children go through something like that again.

When we got home Monday evening I was still running on adrenaline.  I hadn't slept at all the night before.  Josslyn's leg, even though it wasn't technically a surgery, had to be set and casted in an operating room.  Because of the type of break, and the type of cast it would require, she had to be put fully to sleep and intubated.  Another mommy first for me.  Even though I understood and fully agreed this was best for her, I was still very nervous about her being put fully to sleep.  She did excellent though.  That girl is one of the toughest people I know. 

Monday when we got home Josslyn was completely exhausted.  She slept much of the evening and then, much to my surprise, she slept all night, without even needing pain medicine.  I wanted to be near her, and since I had no clue what kind of night she was going to have, we thought the best arrangement was her on the couch and me on the reclincer beside her.  She completely shocked me by sleeping like a rock.  Barely letting out a whimper now and then, just to make sure I was nearby.  Tuesday morning she was still pretty melancholy, as expected for what she had been through.  My adrenaline was wearing off and I felt like a big pile of cow manure.  If I didn't have 5 other kids that needed a mother, not cow manure, I would have curled up on the couch and stared at the wall for goodness knows how long.  My emotions were a wreck.  Thank the Lord for kiddos that need a "sane" mom, so that left curling up in the fetal position and dying not an option.

Tuesday afternoon, after a good nap and some quite time watching tv, Josslyn finally started coming out of her shell.  It was Ray that did it.  She crawled up on my bed beside Josslyn and held her hand.  Josslyn slowly went from quiet, to chatty, to downright giggly.  Sisters can be angels.  Sometimes they know exactly what you need.  Apparently, Josslyn just needed her sister.  By last night she was her normal self.  Once the old Joss was back I felt like the weight of the world had been lifted off my shoulders.  I can now get back to being my normal self(whatever that was), I am just a slightly more aged.  I am sure that the fine lines under my eyes have deepened and the gray hair on my head has multiplied.  But I don't care.  I have my daughter back.  Recovering.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


We have recently had a breakthrough with Alik that I think signals that he is reaching a more comfortable and trusting place in his relationship with us.  If you have been following my blog a while you will remember that our relationship with Alik got off to a rocky start.  I wrote about it some in my blog, but I hope to write about the depth of that rocky beginning at some point.  For now, you will just have to take my word for it that it was rough.  Alik and I did not really begin to form much of a positive relationship until right before I busted him out of the orphanage for good.  Our relationship really started to grow starting the day I got him out of the orphanage forever.  Gotcha Day. 

A few hours in to his first day of freedom was the first time Alik ever gave me a spontaneous hug of his own free will.  It was at that moment that I knew everything was going to be ok and in time Alik would bond with, trust, and even grow to love me and the rest of his new family.  I had no idea how quickly that bonding and love part would start.  The moment we arrived home for the very first time Alik started to truly amaze me.  Of all three of my newly adopted children I thought that he was going to be the toughest egg to crack.  He did excellent though! So much better than I could have ever hoped or dreamed.  He immediately bonded with Ray.  Bonds with other family members were soon to follow.  His english progressed at a more rapid pace than I would have guess possible.

Now, Alik speaks almost all english.  His grammer is on about a 2.5 year old level("Me like that!", etc.), he is learning so quickly.  Once he gained enough knowledge that we could talk with him in more detail, we started asking him, out of pure curiosity, what various things were called in Russian.  At first, he just played dumb.  He would look at my blankly like he didn't understand what I was saying.  I thought that he did, but I just let it go.  Several days later I asked him what something else was.  Again, blank stare.  I had a feeling that he understood me though, so I asked again. 

He looked at me flatly and said, "I don't know." 

So I asked him, "You don't know, or you don't want to tell me?"  

He just shrugged his shoulders.  I have been worried about the kids losing their language.  I've heard that it can happen very quickly, so I wondered if maybe that was the case and just left it at that.

Several days later the scene repeated itself.  This time I asked him something that I knew he should be able to remember.  "I don't know" was the only response I was getting from him.  So I asked if he didn't remember.  He nodded and said that he didn't remember.  So, once again, I just left it at that.

About 2 weeks ago he was looking at a book.  It was a Curious George book about season.  Alik just loves anything to do with monkeys, especially Curious George.  In the book there was a rainbow and he asked me what it was called.  I told him it was a rainbow, and he repeated it in his near perfect southern drawl english.  I thought I'd give it one last shot so I asked him what it was called when he was at his groupa in Ukraine.  He just stared at me.  I figured that either he didn't know, or just wasn't going to tell me.  So I went about my business, figuring that he was never going to tell me anything in Russian that I didn't already know. 

That's when I heard him mutter something.  I looked over at him and he was looking at me tenatively.

"What?", I said.

"Raduga",  he said quietly.


"Yeah, Raduga", he said pointing to the rainbow.

"Raduga is rainbow?" , I pratically yelled in my excitement!


And that is where it started with him sharing things from his old life.  Over the last few weeks he has told us what kinds of foods he ate, what kind of games he played, and other various things about his life in Ukraine.  I now realize that it took time for him to feel safe enough to share that part of his life with us.  Every few days he will randomly come up and share something from his past life.  A candy he ate at groupa and what it is called was his fun fact for today.  Whenever he shares something new he is all smiles.  Today I was sitting back just marveling at how far he has come. 

Alik is definitely a raduga in my life.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

First week of school in pictures

These pictures are all from our first week of school, this past week.  Not all of them are of the kids actually doing school, but I just tried to capture what our week looked like.

Danil and Kellen:BBFF(Bro Best Friends Forever)

Kellen and Danil adore each other.  Any time Danil sits down to look at a book, Kellen is right behind him.

Daddy mowing.
Kellen loves to ride on the mower with Josh.  This isn't the first time he has ridden himself to sleep.

Ray with the glitter after doing her craft from our Bible story.

On that day we read the parable from the Bible about the woman with 10 silver coins and she loses one. 

Josslyn hugging KK.  If I pull out a camera she will hug anyone in sight so that I'll take her picture.  If there happens to be no one in sight to hug, then she just strikes a pose.  That girl loves the camera.

And the camera loves her.

Pretty girl

All the kids having a juice pop during snack time.
 The juice pops are half water/half apple juice. They are easy to make, cheep, not loaded with sugar, and the kids love 'em.  That's what I call a winner!

This is how Josslyn trotted into the kitchen one morning when I called her to come take her medicine.  I thought the loads of jewelry was photo worthy.

Wednesday afternoon after the kids naps, we took a little field trip to the beach.  We ended up being there at low tide.  That meant lots of beach and lots of shallow water fo the kids to play in.  It was perfection.  The kids had a blast.

All 6 kids are in this picture.  Bet you can't find Danil!

Like I said, she loves to pose for picture.

I think Kellen has had enough of the sisterly lovins.

Of course, we had to throw in some learning.  This is homeschool, people.  You can learn anywhere, ESPECIALLY at the beach.  In science we are studying plants.  Since this was our first week of school it was just an introduction to plants.  We talked about kingdoms and classification and such.  In this picture we had decided that this dead catfish was once part of the animal kingdom.  It DID have a backbone.  It was cold-blooded, and had no scales.

Josslyn, of course, just had to pose with the catfish also.

And so did Alik.  Josslyn pulled a little photo bombing and jumped in there with him.

PB and sand sandwich. MMMmmmmmMMM!

Skipping rocks and shells in the shallow water.  He is really good at it.

Danil loves to have his feet buried in the sand.  He will sit like this for 30 minutes just grinning.

Yes, I know they have beer bottles.  They found them on the beach and were having so much fun filling them up with water that I thought it was innocent enough.  They are clueless, so I figured it was harmless.

I love this picture of Luke.

These are the hermit crabs we collected, all in about a 15 minute period.  Luke wanted me to take a picture of them before we released them.  More classification, of course.  Hermit crabs are animals who have a one part shell.

Peek-a-boo!(Or Cuckoo!, as they say in Ukraine.)

 Our beach field trip was a great way to spend the late afternoon having fun while it is still so hot.

The kids with their glitter pictures of what the home that Jesus is building them in heaven looks like.

Luke making a paper mache globe for geography.  This is a several day long project, so I am sure that I will post more pictures of the finished product next week.

Friday was Danil's birthday, so we made it a special day all day.  Pancake breakfast which included singing happy birthday to Danil several times.  We ate dinner with my grandparents for supper.(Mexican food, which Danil loves!)  Then we had a family movie night(which is typically how we spend our Friday evenings as a family)  They looked so cute on the couch waiting for me to start Rio that I could resist a picture. (Luke was on the recliner.  The little one are too squirmy during the movies for his taste.)

We are studying the beginning of American history in....history.  Here Luke is working on painting a map of Columbus's voyage.

Part of our plant unit is about cells.  Luke and Alik made a plant cell.  The ziplock bag is the cell membrane, the jello is the cytoplasm, the grape is the nucleus, and they put them in a small box to represent the cell wall.  Fun, and tasty too.  Apricot jello is good!

This was what our week looked like.  I'll post more about what our day looks like, schedule wise.  I do have to say that the original schedule I formulated is working well.  I use it more as a guide then the law.  I've let myself be flexible with it and I think that is partially why it has worked to well for us.  A reader asked how old my kids are.  Luke is 8.5, Alik is 5.5, Ray is 4.5, Danil just turned 5, Josslyn is 3, and Kellen is 18 months.  In the near future I'll explain where all my preschoolers are at developmentally(and all 4 of my middle children are who I refer to as my preschoolers.  Alik might be 5.5, but his isn't kindergarten ready.)

More soon!