“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!


  1. WOW have y'all been busy! Looks like a lot of fun!
    Praying school goes well!
    Brooke (who cant post a comment)

  2. Joni, what a beautiful family you have. I am so happy for you! You are doing wonderfully. Good luck and have fun with the home schooling. I really enjoyed it last year. I'm going to be doing dual enrollment with my older boy (if we ever get them home...). I'll teach him core subjects and then he will attend the junior high for a couple of electives. I'm hoping that helps him with the language and making friends. And if we're being honest, a little break for me:). Anyhow, let me know how it goes and if you find any great curriculum that you just love. Take care!

  3. I am so glad that you finally got time to post an update, I had been wondering how things were going. Amen to all the emotions you described.., so exhausting, so frustrating and and such a blessing!!

  4. hi there! thanks for your comment awhile ago...finally got around to reading this last post of yours and am so thankful for it! so so thankful!