“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress…”

James 1:27

Our cell phone number in Ukraine is: +38 097 828 9477. We are 8 hours ahead of Texas time. We can receive text but cannot send them. You can also reach us by email at joniredding@hotmail.com.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Update and pictures

I’m not even sure how long we have been home.  It’s been so long since I’ve posted that I don’t know where to start.  School starts tomorrow.  Alex is going to start in 1st grade.  His teacher is super excited about having him in class.  We had “Meet the Teacher”  last week.  It was going great at first. We went to Ellie’s class and then Jacob’s class.  Alex was happy and helping us put away supplies.  Then when we walked in to his class, Tanya said something to him in Russian that made him cry.  I have no idea what she said.  We just kept telling him how sweet his teacher is and that he is going to like school.  Tanya said he loved the teacher, he didn’t like school.  I think that part of it was that he is scared, but part of it is that he just doesn’t want to do school.  It reminded me a little of when we were in Ukraine and he didn’t want to go to bed.  Crying and pouting has been very successful for him in the past.  It’s his way of manipulating.  We want to be sensitive to his true insecurities and fears but we also don’t want to let manipulation work.  Manipulation is the biggest thing we are dealing with right now.   It is frustrating to see them try and manipulate us and everyone else around us, so we are constantly reminding ourselves where they have come from.  They really can’t help it.  It’s all they know.  Alex thinks if he pouts and whines, he will get his way.  If I tell Tanya I won’t buy her a pair of ugly high top shoes (the kind Justin Bieber wears with the huge tongue – gross!) , she pouts around for a day or two.  Living in an orphanage teaches kids to be selfish and manipulative.  That’s part of surviving there.  They are miserable if we are doing anything that doesn’t revolve around them.  We went to Ryan’s new middle school to walk through his schedule and let him practice opening his locker and Tanya acted like we were torturing her.  It was the same at Meet the Teacher.  There is just so much that they don’t know – things we teach our kids from the beginning both with words and just from example.  Selfishness is ugly.  It’s ugly in me, it’s ugly in Jody, it’s ugly in Ryan, Ellie, Jacob, Cole, and it’s even ugly in orphans.  We get so frustrated with it.  I find myself being frustrated with them but then I get frustrated with myself because I’m not being more understanding and compassionate.  Every hour is an emotional rollercoaster.  Sometimes I’m so tired that I want to just give up.  Then, sometimes I am so honored that God chose me for this huge task.  I seriously can’t believe that He would entrust me with these two lives.  We are struggling right now, but God is faithful and He will show us how to work through all of this. He has proven that over and over.   The day after “Meet the Teacher”, we met with his teacher, the principal, and the school counselor.  It was GREAT!  They were so helpful and understanding.  They truly want to help him and it’s so great.  I’m feelling bad for his teacher because I know it’s going to be so much work for her, but she assured me that she considers teaching a ministry.  (Yes, this is public school Sad smile)  Our principal told me that she doesn’t think it was an accident that he came all the way from Ukraine to Seele Elementary.  Alex was able to play in the classroom and talk to his teacher some more so now he says he is excited for school tomorrow.  We are praying that he will understand what is going on when we leave him tomorrow.  We want him to know that we are coming back.   I’m pretty sure that he will enjoy school once he understands how things work.  Here are a ton of pictures from the last month because I can’t even remember what’s been going on. 


P1020397These are Tanya’s friends from the orphanage who have been adopted here.  Yana is in the process of being adopted.


P1020411Some of our friends had a party to welcome Tanya and Alex to the neighborhood.  It was so much fun!

P1020406       Alex was all decked out in his swim gear!  He is actually swimming now all by himself.  I can’t even believe it!  Last weekend he jumped off of the high dive at Camp Travis – and it’s REALLY high!


P1020429  Ellie and Tanya went to cheer camp and loved it!


P1020436  Our first family road trip.  My cousin Valerie got married and we drove 6 hours to Jasper, Texas.  I was pretty proud of my packing even though it went to the ceiling in the car!


P1020437 Daddy and the girls before the rehearsal dinner.


P1020438     Cute!!!


P1020485  Callie and Casey were ringbearers!  So cute!!!!



Of course Cole fell asleep during the wedding!



The kids all loved dancing with their cousins.  It was the first time Tanya and Alex got to meet everyone.  My family is so much fun.  My little cousins are all grown up!


Valerie's wedding

All of these beautiful girls are my cousins.  They were all in my wedding and now here they are.  I can’t believe I am going to post the next picture but it’s just so everyone can see how precious these girls were and still are.  I tried to figure out a way to photoshop my bangs but couldn’t.  Terrible, I know Smile

joni's wedding

These are all the same girls!  It might be fun for you to try and match them.  The twins might be a little tricky!  I can’t even tell you how much I love these girls!!!!



Jacob was shy about dancing but we finally got him to do the robot.



Ryan even danced a little.  I love this age.  A year ago he would have never danced!



Alex didn’t dance but he loved helping clean up!



Cole and his cousins.



Thanks to Granny and Grandaddy the kids got to go to TBarM camp.  Ellie, Ryan, and Callie went to sports camp where they stayed overnight.



Jacob and Casey went to Day Camp.



Tanya has been playing soccer a little.  So far, she really likes it.



My baby turned 5 on August 2nd.



Mimi and Papa came to visit (Jody’s parents)



Brooklyn and Bryce came to visit too and we took all the cousins to Landa Park to ride the train.  My sister-in-law, Angie, helped me organize my kitchen and breakfast room to make room for Homeschool stuff.  It was a huge help!



This is Cole getting his teeth cleaned for the 1st time.  He was so excited.  We had 7 dentist appointments in 1 week.



We got to take a mini-vacation to the JW Marriott last weekend.  The kids had fun swimming and riding the water slides.  The Venegoni’s were there the day before us so the kids got to play together for one of the days.



All the kids at the pool.



In the Lazy River


We also went to Schlitterbahn last week.  My friend Mimi won tickets for Tanya and Alex.  The rest of us have season passes but we haven’t been able to use them because tickets cost so much.  They had a lot of fun but I didn’t take any pictures.


So, that’s some of what we’ve been up to!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Dr. Visit

The appointment went good.  We were told we would have a translator but there wasn’t one.  Jody called on Wednesday to make sure we would have one and they told us we would.  Then I asked again in the office while they were checking vitals and they still said yes, there would be one.  But, then nobody ever mentioned it again.  That was the main reason we drove 3 1/2 hours to a Dr. appointment.  We have to go back in a month to get the results from all of the bloodwork.  We did love the doctor.  She does think that Alex probably has Cerebral Palsy – a mild form.  She wants us to see a Geneticist and a Neurologist to find out exactly what’s going on.  I also have to make appointments to see an Audiologist, Speech Therapist, and Physical/Occupational Therapist.  Looks like we will be spending a lot of time in Dr.’s offices.  She suggested that we put him in Kindergarden and see how it goes.  We called to register for school and they told me that our Kindergarden is full.  If he can’t get in, that means that he will have to go to a different school in our district.  I am really praying that something changes and he will get in to our school.  But, I also know that God might want him to be somewhere else so I’m not going to freak out if it doesn’t work.  Even though that would mean another place to drive, another set of school programs, teachers, PTA, Principals, field trips, parents, ect.  It would be really convenient for 3 of the kids to be at the same school.  Ryan will be at the Middle School this year so I will definitely have 2 schools, 3 seems like a little too much.  I’m planning on Homeschooling Tanya this year and hopefully getting her ready to go to 8th grade next year.  Me, homeschool?  I can’t even believe it.  I’m planning to incorporate shopping into our curriculum as much as possible!  She will know percentages so well.  If this shirt costs $29.99 and it is marked 40% off, how much will it cost?  Real math!  Isn’t that peoples biggest complaint about math?  Why do I need to know this, when will I ever use it?  Now Cole is telling me that he wants to homeschool too.  I think I can handle homeschooling Pre-K.  Plus it will save some money.    I’m tempted to just keep going because I have lots to say but I’ve got to get to bed.  I’m trying to get a lot of sleep this weekend because Jody is leaving on Monday and will be gone all week.    Here is one picture from the Dr. visit!  He had fun sticking stickers all over himself.


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Doctors and Dentists

I've been trying to find a second to sit down and post but it just never happens.   It's already after midnight so I'm going to try and stay on topic - Dr's and Dentists.  I will hopefully find time soon to post about how everything is going.  If I don't do it soon, I will forget.  I would love to tell you all the hilarious things that Cole has said since we've been home.  (Cole, my baby, who turned FIVE yesterday!)  I reminded  him that he told me he would stay four forever and he sincerely said, "I know Mommy, but I just don't know how to do that."  I wish I could freeze my kids at their ages right now.  I LOVE IT!    Ok, I'm already off topic.  We are in Houston right now.  We have an appointment at Texas Children's tomorrow at the clinic that specializes in International Adoption.  We are hoping to get a better idea of what's going on with Alex.  It's just so hard to know what is just a result of neglect and what are permanent physical and/or mental delays.  They mentioned Cerebral Palsey in Ukraine but he has never been diagnosed with anything.  I do think there is more going on that just neglect and institutionalized behaviors. One of the most obvious things is that he drools all the time.  He holds his mouth open and drool is constantly dripping out.  I am really hoping that we can figure out a way to get this under control .  He carries a paper towel and we remind him a billion times a day to wipe his chin and close his mouth.  If anyone has dealt with this and has some ideas for a solution I would love to hear it.  I know this bothers me much more than it should.  I'm really praying about it because I don't want to be grossed out by it.  Speaking of things that gross me out... let's talk about teeth.  We took Alex for an exam and xrays.  He has 10 teeth with who knows how many cavities and 3 teeth that need to be pulled.  I think that leaves about 4 teeth that are ok.  Maybe this is contributing to the drooling?   Our dentist referred us to a pediatric dentist who can put him to sleep and do all the work at once.  We have an appointment for August 27th.  Alla (who works at the orphanage and came to chaperone the kids on the hosting trip) went with us to the dentist appointment to translate.  I don't know how it would have worked without her.  She is so sweet.  Tanya LOVED seeing her and spending the afternoon with her.  We went to lunch after the dentist appointment and Tanya told us (through Alla) that a couple of her teeth were hurting.  I took her to the dentist also and he said that she had one tooth that had a horrible infection and needed to be pulled and another that needs a root canal.  So, we had the one pulled yesterday.  They gave her Versed and she was CRAZY!!!!  It was funny but it was also stressful.  I hate being in the dentist office and I had to sit there and hold her hands and feet down.  She kept poking at the Dr.'s face and trying to get up.  Later she told me that the Dr. had candy all over his face and that the light above her head had frogs on it that were talking to her.  The dentist suggested we cut back on the dose next time :)  She hasn't had much pain from the extraction and keeps begging me to give her more of that crazy medicine.  It took a long time to get the tooth out.  The dentist said it was the worst he's ever seen.  It was so decayed that it broke into a bunch of pieces and he had to get them all out.  He said the infection was so close to the bone.  I'm not sure what all of that means but it's a huge improvement that I can even talk about it.  Next week I might be able to post about slobber :) Today was my turn at the dentist.  I had to have 2 teeth filled.  I've known about them for 2 years but keep putting it off because of how much I hate going to the dentist.  Today I had them filled and they told me that they both need crowns.  Great, those are about $1000 each.  I have been needing to have my bridge fixed also and have been putting it off.  That means I need at least $5000 worth of work in my mouth.  Wow!  I still have 2 cavities that need to be filled and then we will do the crowns.  I will just have to wait on the bridge and hope it lasts a little longer.  I wonder how much a full set of dentures costs.  I know it would be cheaper in the long run :)  I have such horrible dental anxiety that he gives me the maximum amount of nitrous oxide (even with my cleanings).  Today, I fell completely asleep which was awesome until I woke up laughing hysterically.  I could hear the dentist assuring everyone that I was just laughing but I couldn't make myself wake up and stop.  He said I laughed for about a minute and provided some great entertainment for them.  It was a little embarassing but it was probably the most relaxed I've been in several months.  I tried to go back to my dream but couldn't remember what it was.  I know it was great though!  I've got to get to bed.  I will post more about the Dr. appointment when we get home.  Please be praying that we will get some really helpful information.  I will post more about how we are all doing soon!