Monday, December 29, 2008

Happy New Year!

Sorry I haven't updated in awhile. I know everyone wants to know how Emma's first Christmas went. It's been hard to find blog time since she's not in school. I've been enjoying spending some time with her over the last couple of weeks!

Our Christmas was great. We've been waiting a few years to celebrate Christmas with a little almost didn't seem real. We spent some time visiting with family which was alot of fun, but my favorite time was Christmas morning with just Terry, Emma and I. Santa didn't go all crazy with gifts this year, which suited Emma just fine. She is quite appreciative of anything she gets (which is exact opposite of how she was when she arrived home not even five months's amazing how her disposition has changed!). She seemed to enjoy the little things much more than the bigger gifts Santa brought her. I just loved seeing her reaction when she pulled each little thing from her stocking:

I also added one more video below. I thought it was so cute because she proudly held up the box before she even knew what was in it!

Another thing I enjoyed this Christmas is watching Emma give out gifts. She is just as excited to see someone open a gift as she is to open one herself! She got a camera from my brother's family, and she was sure to make Terry and I hold up each of our gifts after opening to she could capture the moment on her camera!

As we do every year, we took our tree and decorations down on boxing day. It's quite a bit of work, but it feels good to get the house back to normal. Emma was a little disappointed to see the tree go. After taking the tree down, whenever she would see someone, she would say, "Christmas all done. Tree is in the stairs." (Translation: tree is downstairs) After church on Sunday, Emma was given a candy cane. She was very excited and wanted to get home to put it on the tree. Terry and I had to giggle. Obviously she had forgotten the tree was taken down. When we got home from church, Emma raced into the house with her candy cane in hand. When she got into the living room and realized what was going on, she exclaimed, "We don't have a tree anymore!" at which point she insisted we bring the tree from downstairs so she could hang her candy cane on it! Sorry kid...your just gonna have to eat it! :)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas Concert

Yesterday was Emma's Christmas concert at school. She had an afternoon and an evening performance. I took my dad and Terry's sisters and brother-in-law to the afternoon performance. Emma did a fantastic job and I bawled through the whole thing....people must think I'm crazy! Although, I wasn't the only one shedding tears! My sisters were bawling right along with me (sorry to drag you in guys!) Anyways, I was beaming as she waved and blew me kisses...proud mommy I am!

After school, Emma's Auntie Jo came to watch her open her Christmas present...a trunk full of princess costumes. She went nuts! It was a perfect gift for her. She excitedly tried each one on right after the other (I wish she could change that fast in the mornings!) We let her pick her favorite one and wear it for awhile. Then we had to get her to change into her pyjamas (that was her costume for the Christmas concert) She put up quite a fuss because she didn't want to take her princess costume off. We explained to her that she had to go back to school to do her Christmas concert again so daddy could see it. This did not sit well and she said, "but I did it already!!" I don't like the attitude, but I love the sentences she's putting together!

At the evening performance, she spotted us right away. As she was walking across the stage, she blew a kiss and said "I love you daddy!" The entire place was filled with a resounding, "AWWWWWWWWWWW!" That's our girl!....cutest one there!

More Dance

Just had to post this one cuz it's too cute!!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Emma's First Dance Class

Emma loves to dance. So much so that she can't even sit still when she hears music. Even when we're watching TV, she'll get up and dance to any type of background music. We decided it was time to try her in a dance class.

The dance class we took her to was very understanding of our situation. They let us go in for a free class last night just to make sure that it is something that Emma would like and be able to follow. They suggested putting her into hip-hop as a starting point. Emma was SO excited and absolutely loved it. She was grinning from ear to ear for the entire hour. Her dancing abilities were OK under the circumstances. She tried to follow some routines that the other kids had already learned. It was very entertaining to watch. Every time the choreography would end all the kids would stop dancing, but not Emma. She would break into her signature freestyle. Once again she was the show stopper and had all the parents in stitches.

We've decided to enroll her in the class. Even if she doesn't become a fabulous dancer, it was just so great to see her having so much fun. This morning when she woke up she said, "Dance again today?"

Check out the little video we took......

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Hair to There!

I've been amazed as I've followed other people's blogs to see their before and after pictures of children that have been adopted. Usually within a matter of months, the child doesn't even look remotely the same. Usually the children are undernourished and look sickly when adopted, but with a little TLC the changes are amazing.

This hasn't been the case with Emma. When we got her in July, despite the not-so-nice condition of the orphanage, she appeared to be relatively healthy. Her height and weight were right on track for her age. Since home, she has gained a few pounds and grown about 5cm, but this has not changed her overall appearance.

However, we have seen a huge change in her hair. I didn't realize it until I was looking at some pictures the other day. It's been almost four months, and it looks to me like her hair is about four inches longer! And since being home, she had a haircut where at least an inch was taken off. And talk about thick! This child has amazing hair!



Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Perfect Gift

Every morning when I brush Emma's teeth, we have a little tradition. She has a little step stool in front of the bathroom sink she stands on so she can reach the sink. When she steps up on it, she is closer to my height, so she always wraps her arms around me for a nice big hug before we start.

This morning, in the middle of our warm embrace, she pulled back and looked me in the eyes. With all sincerity she said, "mama, I'm so happy." I was totally taken by surprise, and curious about what she would say, I asked,"Why?" Her exact words were, "because mama is so happy for me." I know she may not have been totally able to express exactly what she wanted to in english, but I caught her drift. I fought back tears as I brushed her teeth.

I've been trying to figure out over the last few weeks what I would like for Christmas. This morning I came to the realization that I already have everything I could ever want. :)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Sorry not much new to update. I'll just share one little story that gives me a chuckle when I think about it.... We've been having some issues with Emma eating lunch at school. She eats her treats and drinks her juice box but frequently leaves behind what she's supposed to eat (sandwich, macaroni, etc.) A little while ago I picked up Emma from school and asked her if she had eaten her sandwich. Usually when I ask her this question and she has eaten her sandwich, she'll quickly reply with a "ya". If she hasn't eaten her sandwich, she'll reply with "ummmmm...." This particular day, her answer was "ummmmm....." I was particularly frustrated with this answer because it was a few days in a row that she hadn't eaten her sandwich.

I decided I would sit Emma down at the table when we got home and make her eat her sandwich. I wanted her to know that even though she didn't eat it at school, she still had to eat it. So I had her sit down and went to get the sandwich out of her lunch bag, but alas, it was not in there. I asked her where her sandwich was. "At school" was the reply. I further questioned her....

Mama: In your locker?
Emma: No
Mama: In your desk?
Emma: No
Mama: In the garbage?
Emma: Ya.

This frustrated me even more. I wanted to give her the whole spiel about how there are kids all over the world who would do anything for that sandwich, but I knew that wouldn't get me anywhere. So, I followed up with more questions....

Mama: Why didn't you eat your sandwich?
No reply
Mama: Why didn't you eat your sandwich?
Again no reply
Mama: OK, you're going to sit there until you tell me why you didn't eat your sandwich.

After a few minutes, I returned....

Mama: Why didn't you eat your sandwich?
There was a long pause...
Emma: BECAUSE!!!

Now I understand this a typical kid answer, but I had never heard that word come out of her mouth before. I had to hold in a chuckle and ask her my next question...

Mama: Was throwing your sandwich in the garbage good or bad?
No reply
Mama: Was throwing your sandwich in the garbage good or bad?
Another long pause, and I could see Emma's frustration building.
Mama: Was throwing your sandwich in the garbage good or bad?
Another pause, then Emma let's out a frustrated sigh and....
Emma: I guess bad!

"I guess" is another phrase I'd never heard out of this child's mouth. It's hard to be mad at the kid when she's just so darned cute! I again had to stifle some giggling as I told her "I GUESS it's time for you to stand in the corner!"

It is so totally amazing to me how kid's can just pick that kind of stuff up!! Anyways, that's all for now. I'll try and do a four month update around December 9.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Oh Canada!

This is a follow up to my post a little while ago titled "Oh Canasna!" Many have seen this video already on facebook, but I know there a few blog followers who are not on facebook that might like it. Enjoy.....the Ukrainian version of Oh Canada!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

First School Picture

I was quite happy to see that Emma's school pictures turned out so well, considering they were taken back in September when she absolutely hated getting her picture taken. Isn't she just beautiful? I have no idea how the picture people got her to pose and smile, but I am impressed. I'm a little bummed she didn't show her full toothed smile, but at the same time I'm glad it's not a picture of the back of her head, which is about all I could get at that time!

Speaking of school, things are going well. Every morning Emma tells me that she will listen to her teacher and that there will be no pushing other kids. I've been following up with the teacher to ensure that Emma is behaving the way she should be and asked her to let me know if Emma requires any follow up discipline at home. This has only been required once. I think Emma now realizes that she can't get away with stuff now that we're checking up on her. Teacher gives her a sticker at the end of the day if she has been good. Emma's sticker collection is getting quite large as this is her reward at home for doing a good job as well. It seems to be a very good motivator.

Report cards will be coming home next week. I'm a little interested to see what Emma's will say...not too sure how they're going to grade her. "Technically" she is failing at everything, but obviously there are special circumstances surrounding this. Sometimes I get a little panicky when letters get sent home with Emma. Teacher sends home a list of current spelling words, or a letter stating that the grade ones will be starting adding and subtracting up to twelve. Pretty scary when Emma doesn't even recognize letters or numbers!!! OK....just breathe..... I have to keep reminding myself of how fars she's come and that she's still young and has time to catch up. Her fine motor skills are improving drastically, but she still has a long way to go!

We've decided to start Emma in some dance lessons. Not too sure what kind or where. I just know that there is some true talent there that is just waiting to come out. She is such a little performer...I can see it being a part of her future. Some of her dance moves surprise us...and she follows music very well for her age. Her timing and rythym are near perfect!

Well, that's the three month update. I can't believe we've been home three months already! It's gone by so fast! The changes we've seen are remarkable. I'm excited to see what the next three months will bring!!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Happy Halloween

We're not too sure if Halloween is a custom in Ukraine. Even if it was, I don't imagine alot happens for the orphanage kids on that day. The way I picture it, they would be lucky if the orphanage maybe had one costume that the kids could take turns wearing. I'm sure there are much higher priorities than costumes and fun, such as eating and trying to keep warm.

We took Emma costume shopping about a month ago. Halloween here is usually extremely cold, so we tried to persuade her into getting a nice fuzzy costume for trick or treating. She really enjoyed looking at all the fuzzy costumes until she spotted the rack of pretty princess costumes. Once those were in her sight, there was no turning back. Our little diva would have nothing else. I wish we had the camera that day. Once she selected the perfect dress, she insisted that she carry it through the store. It was a little long and it was dragging on the ground, so I told her if she wanted to carry it, she would have to hold her arm up over her head so the dress wouldn't get dirty. Picture this....kid with one arm over her head carrying the dress, her other hand is on her hip as she walks....well STRUTS to the counter with her new purchase. Emma's "proud" strut stems from when we took her from the orphanage in Ukraine. Everytime we would walk her through town, she would STRUT....her butt sticking way out and wiggling from side to side like you wouldn't believe! I think at that time she was trying to show everyone "Hey, look at me! I have a mama and a papa!" Now she does it everytime she wants to show something off.

As soon as we got home, Emma wanted to put the dress on. How do you tell the kid that she can't wear it for the month? So I told her it was for Halloween, even though she had no idea what I was talking about. Everyday when it came time to pick out her clothes, she would pick out the dress and I would have to tell her no, it's for Halloween. Soon enough, when Emma was picking out her clothes, she would point to the dress and tell me "Halloween." Once we got a little closer to Halloween, I began to tell Emma that on Halloween she gets to wear her dress, she would have a party at school and she would get lots of treats. This always got her jumping up and down excited. She was also learning about Halloween at school. She had to memorize a story about five little pumpkins.

This past week, Emma and I did a countdown...five more days till Halloween, four more days, etc. Finally, the night before Halloween, I told her "tomorrow is Halloween!" The next morning when she woke up, she went straight for the dress in her closet and told me "mama, Halloween!"

The school had a costume parade for the kids which parents were welcome to attend. Each class took a turn walking around the gym to show off their costumes. Most kids are shy and trudge around quietly. Not my Emma! She was the star of the show. When it was her classroom's turn, it was time for the Emma STRUT! Once again I was kicking myself for not having the camera. She had the whole crowd of parents in stitches as she strutted, danced and clapped around the gym. I was laughing my head off and trying not to cry at the same time! Talk about emotion overload. It brought me such joy to see how happy she is and how much fun she was having. I think we have a future performer on our hands!

Being the cruel pet owner I am, I decided it would be fun to dress the dogs up for Halloween. They are such troopers! Emma thought it was absolutely hilarious when I dressed Tifa as a ballerina and Anson as a pumkin. She laughed so hard she was holding her gut!

Trick or treating was fun. We had an unusually warm day, so it was nice to get out into the neighborhood. It only took Emma three houses to figure out that she had to say "trick or treat" and open her bag for people to give her candy. We only did our street, and she made out like a bandit! Our cute little girl and our dressed up dogs were quite a hit! By the end of the street, she could barely hold her bag and she kept saying "too heavy!" Although, when I asked her if we should go home, she would say no!

After that, we rented Emma a movie and came home to enjoy her treats. We let her pig out. I was hoping she could eat it all in one sitting, but that just wasn't possible. Now we have lingering treats to get rid of...not so good for little teeth!

As I saw Emma's joy and excitement yesterday, I couldn't help but think about her orphanage. What would she have been doing that day if she didn't come home with us? What are all her other friends doing? It still breaks my heart to think of it. I don't think it's something I'll ever get over.

When we first arrived home from Ukraine, Terry and I agreed our whole process was so terrible, we would never do it again. Now we've gotten to the point that if we had the money to do it, we might consider doing it again. Crazy, huh? Unfortunately, we would have to win the lottery to pay off this adoption and be able to afford to do it again. Who knows what our future will hold.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Sunday Fun

Previously I've mentioned how Emma hates getting her picture taken. Everytime we tried to take a picture, we would have to sneak out the camera and try to get a shot of her. If she had any inkling that we had the camera in our hands, there would be no sign of her. We're not too sure why that is. Maybe because the orphanage took regular photos and it wasn't very pleasant? Who knows! Anyway, things have sure changed in that department. Now if we dress Emma up or dress her dolls up, she asks us to get the camera and take a picture. She'll even put on shows for us so we can video her. This was absolutely unheard of before! It's nice, though, that I can actually get a decent picture of our cutie's face now! Oh ya! And she poses too!! Quite a character we have on our hands!

Emma loves church. It's one of her favorite places to go. Everytime we pull into the parking lot, she claps with joy and shouts "yes, mama, yes!" She loves the loud music that is played. Everytime our pastor asks us to stand up for worship, Emma races down the center aisle and yells "standin up everyone!" She then takes her place at the very front of the church where she claps, raises her hands and dances to the music. And if she knows the words to the song, she'll sing them at the top of her lungs. Thankfully the music is loud enough to drown her out. And members of our congregation find her more an encouragement than a distraction. They are all happy to see Emma so joyful and excited. I snuck our camera into church yesterday to take pictures during worship (Bad Tara!!!) I just had to though! Unfortunately, I couldn't use the flash and the lighting was awful, so the pictures aren't very nice...but you can get an idea of how church goes for Emma......

After church yesterday, we decided to take Emma to West Edmonton Mall's Galaxyland for some fun. We played in the children's playplace most of the time (Talk about wearing mama and papa out!) Then we thought it might be fun to take Emma on a ride. I've always been a little leery of doing this. Once I put Emma on the teeter totter at the park and she completely freaked. Galaxyland has three rollercoasters...small, medium and large. Terry wanted to take Emma on the medium one. I insisted we start on the small one and work our way up. Before the ride started I asked Emma if she was scared and she said no...and she wasn't kidding. Once that rollercoaster started going, she had both her hands in the air and was squealing with delight...probably the most exciting thirty seconds she's ever had! :) We decided next time we go, we will purchase all day passes and try Emma on all the rides. I think she'll have a blast!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


You are still checking the blog? I guess that means I'm obligated to continue writing! Nothing too exciting going on, just a small update today.

Emma continues to talk more and more english each day, especially this last couple of weeks...seems like everything just seemed to click in her head and she just started speaking in sentences. She's discovered the power of the words "Can I have a....." She realizes all she has to do is add what she wants to the end of that sentence and she usually gets it. So I hear a lot of "Can I have a water? Can I have a toys? Can I have a help?" Not perfect grammar...but she gets the idea! She also has some funny little phrases that make me laugh. My favorite is "just a bittle." (just a bit OR just a little...she just likes to combine the two!) It's also cute when she gets words mixed up. Today she was trying to tell me to smile and she said "mama, sneeze!" Even though she hasn't got it all down, communication in our household has gotten a lot better. Emma pretty much understands everything we say and she can usually put together enough words for us to understand what she is saying.

That being said, Emma thinks now that she can speak the language she can tell people what to do. That doesn't fly very well with mom and dad and we have to keep reminding her that we're the parents and she's the kid. We're really enforcing "listening" which she completely comprehends. She knows if she doesn't listen, there will be a consequence. Unfortunately, her new attitude is getting her into some trouble at school. Teacher told me today that Emma likes to try and run the classroom and isn't taking instruction very well anymore. When she tries to discipline Emma in some way, Emma cries...which seems to get all the grade ones in a tizzy. Seems teacher has her hands full. Not much I can do, being they won't allow me in the classroom. All I can do is offer my sympathy and remind her to stick to her guns and not let Emma get away with anything.

As far as learning goes, Emma is improving. I get quite discouraged sometimes when I see kids her age or younger doing such simple things that Emma can't seem to wrap her mind around. I have to constantly remind myself of where she was only two and a half months ago, and what she can do now. There has been a huge improvement, it's just that she was so behind. Really it's like starting with an infant who is seven years old. Emma can count to 29 on a good day (apparently after that comes twenty-ten, then twenty-eleven, etc!) ABC's are no problem (even L-M-N-O!) Her problem solving skills are improving (puzzles, block patterns, etc) When we first met her, all she could draw was a squiggle. Now she is starting to draw stick men, shapes and can almost write her name. Recognition seems to be our biggest problem, but she is starting to know a few shapes and numbers. We know the ability is there and we continually work with Emma to help her improve.

Emma is sleeping alot better at night (I type this as I hear her chattering to herself in bed!) Well, alot better for the most part! Bedwetting is very rare and there isn't as much sneaking out in the middle of the night as there used to be. I think the fact that it gets dark earlier helps. I also think she is starting to realize that her toys will still be there in the morning. Every once in awhile she'll still sneak an odd thing under her pillow. My favorites have been her slippers and a dish towel!

Well, that's all for now. All boring stuff, but you are still reading it, so you must find it interesting!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

New Snow Suit

Emma got a new snowsuit for her birthday. The day after, we decided it would be a good idea to try it on her to make sure it fits. We're not sure if she's ever worn a snowsuit before. When we asked if she would like to try it on, she wrinkled up her nose and shook her head no...she does this when she doesn't like something. When we convinced her to try it on (well, not so much convinced, but told her it was the way it was going to be!) she reluctantly pulled on the snowpants followed by the jacket. Terry and I had to have a little chuckle as it is a little big on her...(good for a growing girl!) She looked like she had a great big torso and no legs. See picture below....

The second picture is taken about ten minutes later. Emma was so-not-impressed about the snowsuit until we told her to go look in the mirror. Well, this changed everything! After that, she didn't want to take it off! She INSISTED on wearing it while she watched her Cars movie...too funny. It was all fun and games until she ran up to me and said "mama, Emma go pee!" She always leaves peeing until she can barely hold it anymore, so we had to rip off the snowsuit in a hurry!
At that point, I hung the snowsuit up in our front closet to save it for a cold snowy day. But when it came time to go out later that afternoon, Emma ran to the closet and told us she wanted to wear it. It was a very warm fall afternoon, and it took quite a bit of convincing Emma that she would look a little crazy wearing her snowsuit in the sun!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Happy Birthday Emma!

This past Thursday was a very big day for us...Emma's first birthday in Canada. She turned seven. When she woke up that morning I told her "It's your birthday, Emma....Happy Birthday!" She looked at me like "huh?" She may not have understood that, but she did understand when I told her after school she would get a treat and a present. That morning her Auntie called and sang her happy birthday over the phone. Once again Emma gave me that "you Canadians are crazy" kinda look. But, by the end of the school day, she came bursting out the doors singing "Happy birthday to You!!!" Obviously the kids were singing it to her. She also came home loaded with some treats and prizes she had got at school. She knew she was beginning to like this birthday thing!

That night, we had a small celebration with just Terry, Emma and I. After supper, we gave her a twinkie with a candle in it and let her open our present. She LOVES baby stuff, so we bought her twin baby dolls with a stoller, swing and bassinet. She went absolutely crazy. It was almost unbearable for her to watch as Terry and I tried to put together the most complicated of toys ever. We'll know better for next year....assemble before wrapping!!!

Her big party was yesterday (Saturday) We rented a great big jumpy thing with a slide (see pics below) to keep Emma and her cousins occupied during the day. Despite the chilly fall weather, the kids had a blast. In fact, by mid afternoon, many of the neighborhood kids came to play. It was a hit! Playtime was followed by some greasy fast food chicken for Emma and the family (yum!) and a "Cars" cake. Emma's a girly-girl, but she also loves her cars! She couldn't wait to blow out the candles so she could take the car off. After that, it was present about wild!! This was the most stuff Emma had ever gotten at once and it was a little overwhelming to say the least. We made sure to tell her who each present was from so she could say thank you and give hugs. Emma didn't quite seem to think the thank you part and hugging was as much fun as opening presents, so she unfortunately had to have a time out in the middle of present opening. I think many of our guests were shocked and maybe a little appalled at what we did. Thankfully, Terry and I were on the same page. We know Emma best and we try to handle these situations as best as possible.

Aside from that, I'd say Emma had a pretty good day!

Emma and her cousin

Friday, October 3, 2008

Oh Canasna!

A couple of nights ago I was giving Emma a shower. She totally loves shower time and is constantly singing while she's in there. Usually, she sings some strange russian concoction that I don't understand. But this night it was something different. She was singing and singing and suddenly I realized that I recognized the tune, yet I still couldn't understand what she was saying. I stopped and listened for a few seconds, and sure enough, she was singing Oh Canada!! I think out of the whole song she correctly pronounced about three words. But she definitely knows the tune and makes the right sound of each word. It was quite hilairous! And by the way, it wasn't "Oh Canada" was "Oh Canasna." I sure hope Emma is enjoying her new life here in Canasna!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Blood Tests

After seeing the adoption specialist, she gave us a pile of tests that need to be done on Emma. There were several requisitions for bloodwork, so I informed Terry that he would be coming with me this time. I know since we've been to the lab before, Emma would put up a huge fuss because she would know what's coming this time. But I had a plan....I also had to get bloodwork done. Terry suggested that I go first so Emma could see that it didn't hurt. "Oh no," I said, "Let me go after Emma and watch what happens." You see, mama has learned the power of distraction!!

So, we throw Emma on Terry's lap and try to get her to stick out her arm. As I suspected, it wasn't just wimpering this was an all out brawl! The lab tech immediately shut the door as Emma started screaming. She refused to stick her arm out and started kicking and trying to wriggle out of Terry's grasp. So Terry firmly wrapped his arms around her as one of the nurses forced Emma's arm down so the other could draw her blood. Unfortunately, they had to take five vials of blood and Emma screamed the whole time. When all was said and done, she decided to throw herself on the ground and have a little tantrum. That's when my plan kicked in. Over the screaming and wailing, I loudly say "mama's turn!" and walk over to the lab chair. IMMEDIATELY Emma stopped crying and watched as I sat down and the nurse prepped my arm for the blood test. She ran to my side and grabbed my hand and said, "Mama, don't cry!" It worked! She was completely mesmorised as they drew my blood and stroked my arm the whole time. Afterward, she and I happily picked out some stickers and all was well in the world again! :)

Friday, September 26, 2008


Remember while we were in Ukraine and we told you about the small puzzle that Emma could not do on her own? Well, yesterday we hit a milestone. After doing the puzzle about a thousand times, Emma finally did it on her own with no help from mama! I was very excited and so was she. Even though learning has been a little difficult for Emma, I was very glad that she was excited and felt a sense of accomplishment after doing it.

Emma is also mastering her ABC's. She loves to sing the ABC song. She can count to 10 with no problems and can almost count to 20 (she misses the odd "teen") Colours and shapes still give her difficulty. She can easily say them all, but she has a hard time recognizing them. We are working with her as much as we can on this. Anyone out there with some tips? We would appreciate them!

The other day Emma was playing with a little girl next door. I've been trying and trying to teach Emma how to pedal her bike. She was having a hard time and always pedalling backwards (applying the brakes) so she found it frustrating and would always quit. Leave it to the four year old next door to teach Emma how to do it! I was so happy, once again, to see the excitement on her face that she figured it out. It also made me feel better about putting her in school so soon. She seems to learn alot better from kids than she does from us!

Emma's english is coming along quite well. Every so often she'll pop out a word or phrase that we didn't know she knew and it totally surprises us. The other day, I was brushing our dog's teeth (yes, I actually brush the dog's teeth...quit laughing!) Anyway, Emma LOVES to watch me brush the dog's teeth. On this particular day, the dog was pulling away and giving me hassle. Emma kept saying "mama..ouch!" After I finished with the dog, Emma wrapped her arms around her and said "good dog,'re so smart!" I laughed my head off!

Overall, things are going quite well. We are really cracking down on the discipline now that Emma can understand us better. She seems to go through "streaks" where she's really good, and then it'll seem we're doing nothing but disciplining her. It gets hard sometimes and I feel bad for her, but we know it's the right way to raise a child.

That's all for now. Sorry these posts are becoming less frequent. I keep thinking all these little stories are boring, yet everytime I come to the blog I see many of you keep checking it. So, I guess until people quit reading the blog, I'll keep posting!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


We've been waiting since we got home for Emma to see an adoption specialist as well as the dentist. Turns out the appointments ended up one day after the other. For those of you who have been following the blog since Ukraine, you'll remember that Emma was terrified of doctors. Terry was the lucky one who had to take Emma to the immigration doctor in Ukraine. I'm the lucky one who gets to take care of the appointments now that we're home.

Yesterday was an appointment with the adoption specialist. She is the best in Canada (so they say) and she looks at Emma's physical, mental and emotional health. We were at the hospital for a total of three hours and I was ready for bed after that! The stress started by me driving to downtown Edmonton to a hospital I had never been at before and desperately trying to find a parking spot as I was running late. Well, I didn't find a spot, so I left the hospital and parked in a parking lot a few blocks away with about five minutes to spare. It was pouring rain, so Emma and I ran as fast as we could under my umbrella. We made it to our appointment with about ten seconds to spare. Phew!

We only sat in the waiting room for about one minute before Emma was called in. Emma has somehow made the connection that sitting in a waiting room and then someone calling her name means she's going to see the doctor..she was immediately apprehensive and I had to coax her in. No sooner than the lady asked Emma to take her coat and shoes off, Emma was in a heap on the floor wailing. All the lady wanted her to do was stand on the scale and measure her height. It wasn't going to happen. So I picked up Emma and the lady weighed Emma and I together and then just me and subtracted the difference to get Emma's weight. Height was not going to happen today. The lady then took us to a small room (Emma still wailing and me dragging her along) to wait for the doctor. Emma calmed down when she saw the toys and began to play. The doctor came in a few minutes later with a student of hers. The student came in handy as she was able to keep Emma busy while the doctor and I discussed everything there is to know about Emma. When it came time to examine Emma, the doctor let her sit on my lap and showed Emma everything she was going to do on a doll first. She let Emma play with her stethescope and a few other doctor tools and Emma seemed to relax. Emma reluctantly went through the examination without totally freaking out. She didn't cry, but she zoned out and started breathing really heavy like she was going to hyperventalate! Thankfully, everything looked good. The doctor said she would turf the chest x-ray for today because she didn't think Emma could handle it (thank God!) Instead, she gave me a requisition for a TB test, a pile of blood tests and more stool samples. Oh joy.

After that, it was off to see the occupational therapist who would assess Emma's motor skills. This was a lot more fun than the real doctor because Emma got to draw, play catch, hop on one foot and several other fun things. Her motor skills are off the charts (really good) according to the therapist, but her FINE motor skills are terrible. She thinks it's just due to a lack of exposure, so that's something we'll really need to work on.

After everything was done, I decided Emma needed some fun. It was lunch time, so I took her to McDonald's to eat and let her play in the Playplace for an hour. She had a great time and her doctor's appointment was quickly forgotten.

Today, we were off to the dentist. We were going to see a special pediatric dentist. When we got there, there was a waiting room full of toys, so Emma was very excited. She quickly picked out the toy school bus and airplane and paraded in front of me..."Look mama! School bus...airplane!" Things were going fine and dandy until a lady came out and called Emma's name...she knew what was coming. Once again, I'm dragging her in to a small room. The nurse could see how nervous Emma was, so she suggested having Emma sit on my lap in a chair rather than the big dentist chair. Soon the dentist came in. All he wanted to do was have Emma lay back so he could look in her mouth. All Emma wanted to do was scream and cry. That's OK, though. I was wondering how they were going to get her to open her mouth...screaming definitely does the trick! The dentist checked all Emma's teeth with a little mirror for about twenty seconds. No big deal, but Emma proceeded to wail as the dentist told me he didn't see any decay. He suggested we don't do anything with Emma (cleaning) until she's not so scared. So, it looks like we won't be cleaning Emma's teeth for another 10-20 years! LOL! I'm just very glad to have both of those appointments overwith!

On our way home, Emma excited pointed at the McDonald's and shouted "McDonald's..Eat!!!" She seems to think that every doctor's appointment warrants a trip to McDonald's afterwards. I reminded her that we had just eaten about half an hour earlier. This seemed to satisfy her!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

As promised....

I have uploaded our favorite shots from family picture day. If you look at the top of the screen, you'll see a slideshow. I know the pictures are totally tiny, but if you double click on it, they'll get big and you can look at each one. I posted our best shot below....enjoy!

Our New Family Picture

Monday, September 15, 2008

Family Pictures

Terry's side of the family has been waiting for family pictures ever since they found out that Terry and I were going to have a child. It's been almost three years, so now that Emma's home, it was time to get it done. We decided to get them done yesterday after church and it was interesting.....three families, four dogs and a little girl who doesn't speak english and on top of that she doesn't understand what family pictures are! Yikes! Things went fairly well. The lady taking our pictures was very patient and totally understood our situation. She took lots of pictures as it was difficult to get Emma to "pose." It's hard just to get her to stand or sit in one place for a few seconds! Also, there was no point styling her hair because she doesn't understand how to "keep it nice." She's just a kid who wants to play and doesn't care what her hair looks like! We hope some turned out. We should be getting them by the end of the week and I will post them on the blog for you all to see.

After pictures we came home and noticed that our neighbor's a few doors down were having an open house. Being as nosy as we are, we decided to go have a look. Emma was quite intrigued with the beautiful house that had no furniture...lots of room to dance and play! The real estate lady showing the house was quite friendly but something made me cringe when she talked. I didn't realize it was her Russian accent until later. Once she found out Emma was from Ukraine, she started rattling off a bunch of russian to Emma. Personally, hearing the language brings back bad memories for me, and I think it did the same to Emma. She was super happy and chatty until this woman started talking to her... then she clammed right up. Don't get me wrong. This lady was SUPER nice. Her family moved to Canada from Ukraine ten years ago and she had so much empathy knowing that Emma came from an orphanage. She shared that she and her family had a difficult time living there. She told us her kids lost their russian language because they chose to...they did not want to speak it anymore as it brought back memories. This lady offered to help us in any way she could. We chatted with her for a little while and then Emma started to open up just a bit. I'm not going to get into too much detail, but Emma shared a little bit about things that had been told to her in the orphanage and how she had been treated. She only divulged a tiny bit of information before she clammed up and refused to talk again. It really broke my heart to hear just the little bit that we heard. I asked the lady to tell Emma that mama and papa love her and she gets to stay with us forever, because I don't think she totally understands that yet. She didn't show any response after that. I hope it brought her some comfort. Even more, I hope she believes it.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Sick Kid

Well, it's the second week of school and Emma's already caught a bug. I'd like to say that she picked it up from some kid at school, but I'm afraid she's picked it up from me. I've been a little under the weather all week. Today is the first day that I felt OK and I had a list of about 500 things to do and was excited to get them all accomplished. My day was looking pretty good until Emma woke up all stuffed up and coughing up a storm. We had a feeling it was coming as she's been sneezing and had a runny nose the last couple of days. So...I scrapped my to-do list for one more day to keep Emma home from school. She's still a bundle of energy, but I thought it would be best for her not to spread her germs to the other kids. Now that we have a kid, I have a better understanding of why kids are so contagious. They are not at all concerned about where they're coughing or where they wipe their snot. Ew!

Emma's teacher tells us she is fitting in well at school. We had a bit of a problem last week when the teacher told me that Emma would not sit in her desk, so she had been letting her sit at the back of the classroom with headphones on to listen to music. Apparently, she would dance and was singing in to the end of a skipping rope. This all sounds real cute, but it really got my blood boiling. I couldn't believe they would just let her do that! How will she ever learn anything? We went the next day and brought it up with the principal. She explained to us that Emma would not listen and they have a "hands off" policy when dealing with children unless they have permission from the gave the permission! This does not mean that they can spank or hit her, it just means they can physically get her to sit in her desk and keep her there. I told them that's the only way she will learn. That's pretty much how everything has been with her. We force her to do it...she kicks up the biggest time she does it without a problem. I sent an email to the teacher this week to see how it was going. She responded "Emma is doing well and following through with a little guidance." I don't know exactly what that means...I hate that I don't get to be there to see what's going on. The school has agreed with us, though, to meet every three or four weeks to track Emma's progress. They have also been in contact with a retired school teacher who speaks Russian with a Ukrainian dialect who is willing to volunteer some time with Emma at school.

Ever since we got home from Ukraine, we've had a problem with Emma getting up in the middle of the night to bring toys to bed. We've tried several things, but she is a little sneak! We tried putting all the toys on the top shelf of her bookshelf, but she would climb the shelf and pull them down. We tried leaving all of her toys in the living room...she would sneak out at night and bring the toys to her bed. We set a booby trap on her bedroom door to let us know when she was sneaking out at night, but that proved to be a problem as we don't want Emma to be afraid to leave her bedroom at night. When she is afraid to leave, she won't go to the bathroom to go pee, she will pee in her bedroom. booby trap. Last night, we put a bungy cord around her toy box so it couldn't open. The toys she had out in the living room, we put into our bedroom ensuite. She had absolutely NO access to any toys unless she were to come through our bedroom, which we knew she wouldn't do. Well, she must have felt pretty desperate last night as she searched through the house and couldn't find any toys. When I woke up this morning, she was in bed with the Sear's Catalog!!! I thought that was pretty funny. I have since hid the Sear's Catalog and wonder what surprise I will find in her bed tomorrow morning! :)

Emma's Sick Day at Home

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Home One Month

Talk about time going by so fast!!! This past month was a blur, while the two months previous to that seemed like an eternity!!

The joy of being back home in Canada has not worn off yet. I'm still in love with my washer and dryer. I quite enjoy cooking meals and cleaning house. I am quite elated when we are out somewhere and Emma has to go pee, we can always find a washroom within minutes...and all the washrooms have toilets!

I lost about seven pounds while we were in Ukraine. I haven't stepped on a scale since the day we got home because I'm sure I've gained twice the weight since then! Every time we eat something that we haven't had since we've been home, it's like I'm trying it again for the very first time! My tastebuds have done many happy dances! I especially enjoyed my first hot wings, pizza and ice cream. Yum!

I am happy to say that we are quite enjoying being parents to Emma. I can't believe the changes we've seen in one month. In fact, I'll be quite honest...when we got home with Emma I was a little concerned about what we had gotten ourselves into. The jet-lag, the stress of everything that had to be taken care of when we got home along with a six year old with an attitude really took it's toll on me. Never in a million years did I think things would settle down in one month. We see Emma's behavioural issues less and less as she gets more comfortable with us. Sometimes I need to just step back and think of how stressful this is for her. She's not the only one dealing with huge changes in her life. And we chose this life for her, she didn't. Even though it's obvious to any adult that this life is much better, you never know what's going on in a little one's mind. There may be things she misses terribly. And not being able to express her frustration in words that we can understand has to be so hard. Remembering these things has really softened my heart towards her and gives me patience during the trying times. And, fortunately, there are many more good times than trying times. It brings such joy to my heart when she wraps her little arms around me and says "I love you, mama!" :)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

School Day #2

Today was Emma's first official "full day" of school. We pumped her up last night by telling her "Zafdra (tomorrow) Emma Schoolah," to which she would reply "da." (yes) So she knew what was coming today. Against the advice of the school, I packed Emma a lunch rather than bringing her home. I decided it would be better to have her socialize and get to know the kids than come home with me at lunch. And I certainly don't want to be picking her up once the snow comes and we hit minus thirty! So...I thought we'd give it a shot. Emma was quite excited when she saw all the yummy stuff I had on the counter as I was packing her lunch bag. I explained to her that it was for her to eat at schoolah. I don't think she really understood, though, as she had a mini-tantrum as I made her put everything in the lunch bag. This made getting her ready difficult this morning, as she doesn't like to cooperate when she doesn't get her way. We managed...and I got her to school in the nick of time!

When we got to the school, Emma immediately took off her outdoor shoes to trade for indoor shoes. I let her run ahead so I could see what she would do. Well, she ran straight to her locker (she knew which one it was) put her jacket and bag away, came and gave me a hug and kiss, ran to her desk and yelled "bye, mama!" Quite a change from yesterday. I knew at that moment that packing her lunch was the right thing to do! I was elated that she was excited to be there, but it's a bittersweet feeling having a "day off" from being mom. Most people get to enjoy and spend time with their kids for four years before putting them in school. I only got a month. :( I remember thinking to myself four weeks ago..."thank goodness she'll be in school right away." How things change when you get attached to those little buggers!

I decided since it was my first "day off" that I would go shopping. I had some gift cards from Emma's shower that I've been itching to spend. I had a good time. It's definately different going through the mall looking for clothes for my daughter, rather than shopping for work clothes. I really enjoyed it. After shopping, I came home to have a quick nap before picking up Emma from school. Finally, I could nap in peace...ahhhhh!!!!!

When I got to the school, I found out nobody is actually allowed in the school, so I had to wait outside of Emma's bootroom. When the bell rang, I looked to and fro among the mass of kids to find Emma. Didn't take long...I could hear her calling for mama. She came out a bundle of happiness saying "mama...machina car...go see Tifa and Anson outside go poop!" (hilarious!) So off we went. When we got home, she excitedly told me all about her day. It was a good twenty minutes of talking a mile a minute and I only caught about 5 words that I understood. It was great to see her excitement, though, and all her gestures are so cute! I know for sure they must have done the chicken dance today because she was doing the actions for it. When I asked her if she did the chicken dance she yelled "Da...CHICKEN POOP!" A few days ago, I called her chicky-poo, and now whenever she hears the word chicken, she yells "chicken poop." Great...I bet the teachers LOVE that! :):)

All night tonight Emma kept saying, "Zafdra, Emma go to schoolah!" I'm glad she's looking forward to it!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

I'm Back!!!

I know, I know, it's been forever since I last posted. Life has been extremely busy with summer vacation ending and trying to prepare for school. I've been spending most days having fun with Emma, so it's been hard to get some computer time. Things will be different now that she's in school. I'm looking forward to some grown up time, but at the same time I will miss Emma a lot!!

I won't go too much into the school problems I've had this last week. Long story short...nobody wanted to take Emma. Quite sad after we testified in our court hearing how Canada has fantastic schools with special programs to help Emma adjust. The only school that would take her is our designated school. They would not put her into a special class and told us funding is very limited for extra help. So Emma will have assistance a little bit here and there, but for the most part she's flying solo in a regular grade one class. I thought I would be going with her for the first little while, but this is not allowed by the school. We think she'll be OK, though. I'll talk a little more about her first day a little later on.

I posted pictures last week of Emma's surprise shower at church. We were so surprised that we got a shower, being that Emma's not really a baby! How many baby showers have you been to where the baby actually opens their own presents? It was really cool and Emma had a blast. Before opening each present, I had her open the cards. Every time she opened a card, she would pretend she could read what was on the inside. Every card said the same thing....she would open it up, tell everyone "SHHHH..." and proudly read "I love you papa....I love you mama!" It was quite funny! Everyone got a kick out of her as she proudly held up her new clothes and other gifts. I just want to thank everyone who came out. We were so blessed by it!! And special thanks to my best bud Tracey who is the world's best organizer!! Luv ya!

Friday was Emma's last official day of summer holidays, so I decided it was time to teach her a new! I took her to galaxyland for the day. (For those not familiar with is an indoor amusement park inside the largest mall in the world) I've never seen her so excited! She squealed with delight just watching the rollercoaster whiz by. We didn't go on any rides as Emma seems to have a bit of a fear still. But we did go into the play park there. This is a special place just for kids filled with tunnels, slides, ball pits and alot of other cool stuff. It's pretty big, so I was a little leary at first of letting Emma go off by herself. She also was a little scared to go off on her own. So here I am crawling through tunnels and going down all the slides with the little kids, as all the moms sat at the entrance visiting. After awhile, we found our way around. I was able to relax a little more and Emma would go off on her own and come back for a hug every few minutes. It's funny...I found myself speaking Russian the whole time while Emma spoke english. She would say "Let's go!" or "This way, mama!" and I would say "chickai!" (wait) or "stoy tut!" (stay here) Aside from the word "fun" Emma also learned another new phrase. She's not very good at waiting her turn for things and she always found kids in her way, so I taught her "Excuse me." After that, I could hear her all around the park..."SCUSE ME....SCUSE ME!!!!!!" Our day went very well until it was time to leave. Emma did not want to go! I can only imagine what was going on in her head. There is NOTHING in Ukraine that would even compare to the things she saw(especially the whack-a-mole which she loved!) The best part of my day is when papa got home from work. Emma told him ALL about her day. She was talking a mile a minute and we couldn't understand a word! But we could figure out from all her gestures what she was talking about!! It was totally cool!

Emma's english is coming along quite well. She can even put together the odd short sentence. Every once in a while she'll pop something out that I didn't even know she could say. For example, today she shared her chips with me. I told her "thank-you" and she immediately replied "You're welcome, mama." Wow! Doesn't sound that special, except that I've never heard her say it before. She says other things like "see this", "go outside", "chapsick please", "yogurt please", "beautiful mama". And she knows several phrases for our dogs..."No licking, Tifa!" "Get down!" "Bellyrubs", "good dog" and my personal favorite..."go outside Anson and Tifa poop!"

SO...onto the first day of school. We've been gearing Emma up the last few days buying her supplies, a backback and a new jacket all the while telling her it's for "schoolah," to which she would reply, "Nyet, mama!" We went a few days ago to see her classroom and meet her teacher. She had all kinds of fun that day. They let her draw all over the boards with colored markers. Today when we got to school, all was going well. Emma remembered where her classroom was and ran there. I proceeded to unload all of her school supplies into her locker. I tried, but for the life of me, I could not get Emma to sit at her desk. I got quite nervous as one by one all the other kids came in, found their seats and sat quietly. I decided the best course of action was to not draw it out and leave. Teacher agreed. I told Emma I had to go and that I would be back soon to get her. She immediately latched onto me and started crying. It was so hard, but I pulled myself away and reluctantly left (also holding back tears) Thankfully, school was only two hours today. I went home for an hour and decided to back to the school and just hang out in the hallways to make sure there was no screaming coming from Emma's classroom. When I got there, the principal advised me that it was going to be recess and that I could go outside with Emma, so I waited in anticipation at her classroom door. She was the first one out and was happy and excited to be going outside. She immediately went for her shoes and said "This way, mama!" I watched her play with the other kids on the playground. I can't describe the joy I felt just knowing that she was doing OK and it was so great to see her playing with the other kids. Her teacher told me Emma didn't cry for very long after I left, so that was a relief. After recess, the kids started filing into the school again. Emma started crying again. I don't think it was because I was not going with her. She just wanted to keep playing at the park. Once again, her teacher advised me that she didn't cry for long once inside. There was only about fifteen minutes left of school anyway. After school, we enjoyed a BBQ with all the kids and their parents. I watched Emma play with the other kids fairly well for the most part. I did see some hitting, at which point I went and scolded her. She cried for a few minutes but was soon playing again. I kept asking if she would like to go home to see Tifa and Anson and she would say "nyet." We were the last ones to leave. Overall, I'd say the day went very well. It'll be interesting to see how tomorrow goes. I don't think she'll want to go, but she'll probably be OK once she gets there. I'll keep you posted!

First Day of Schoolah

Monday, August 25, 2008

Life With Emma

It's been a couple weeks since we've been home now. I'd like to say we have a routine down, but we don't. Getting blog time is hard. In fact, Emma is sitting on my lap as I type!

I know there are many of you out there still following the blog, so I'll keep updating with stories when I get a chance. This week I'm trying to register Emma in school. It's been hard. No one is sympathetic to our situation. Basically it looks like we'll just have to put Emma in grade one. The schools tell us it is quite an issue to get a child into a special program. There needs to be "documentation"...and a lot of it before a school will shell out extra $$$ for special needs kids. There is one school (not in the public system) who is going to do some research for me to see if we can place Emma in one of their special classes. We'll see how it goes. Hopefully we'll know before next week because that's when school starts!!

So, I know everyone out there likes to hear stories about gross here goes...Emma's poop story!....
We suspect Emma may have intestinal parasites (very common among orphanage kids) so our doctor requires 2 stool samples. We were given 2 little vials full of liquid and a screw-on cap with a little scoop attached. Our job...fill the vials with poop using the little scoop and stir it into the liquid. Sounds easy, right? Problem do we get this poop? It is not allowed to touch water or urine.

Day 1.....
Emma wakes up and goes to the toilet and is going pee. I ask her if she needs to poop..she says "da" (yes) So here mom comes with a paper plate wondering how I'm going to get Emma to squat over it and poop. I simply asked her to do it and to my amazement she immediately squats over the plate. I was very elated that everything was going so well, but all she did was squat there for a few minutes..she didn't have to poop. Later that day...same thing happens again. She will happily squat over the plate, but obviously she is not entirely sure what "poop" means. Round 3...Emma is peeing on the toilet and I ask her if she has to poop. She says "nyet" so I leave her alone. Next thing I know, she's calling me to wipe her bum as she's laid a great big one in the toilet!!! Round 4...same thing happens again. I give up on day 1.

Day 2......
I decide to try a new method...saran wrap over the toilet seat. I punch a hole in it for the pee to drain and leave it there to catch anything else that's coming out. Emma finds this very amusing. In fact, every time she goes to the toilet, she brings me the saran wrap and wants me to put it on the toilet for her. Round 1, 2, and 3...only pee. Round 4 and 5 were while we were out shopping and, of course, she pooped both times. That's it for day 2!!!

Day 3...... SUCCESS!! And the best part about it...Terry was home!!! I somehow conned him into scooping the first sample telling him we each have to do one. Well, this poop was so huge, I'm surprised the saran wrap could hold it!!! And here's poppa, scooping little spoonfuls into the vial, gagging the whole time..trying not to lose his lunch. It was hilarious!!
Next poop it was my turn. Luckily it was just little pieces that were very easy to get into the vial. And I have a much stronger stomach than problem! He got off lucky, though, because I was the one who got peed all over this morning as I got Emma to pee in a cup for a urine test!
Emma found all of this collecting pee and poop quite amusing. In fact, as poppa was doing his scooping, she's in the background yelling "STINKY, YUCKY!" and laughing her little head off.
OK! Enough talk about number 1 and number 2. I hope you all had a good laugh over this one!

Surprise Shower at Church

Monday, August 18, 2008

Small Successes

We are happy to say potty training is going alot smoother than planned. In fact, our last accident was in Ukraine the third night we had Emma. Since we've been home, she's either been going on her own or telling me (well-not really telling me, but calling "mama" and doing the peepee dance) That's ok. I'll take that. She even told me when she was in the tub a couple of days ago. I was impressed she didn't let it go in the bathwater. As far as night time goes, we have been getting her up once a night to go pee until a couple of nights ago. We decided to let her sleep through the night just to see what would happen. Two pee! In fact, last night she went to bed at 8 and then slept till 8 this morning and everything was good. I guess one bonus about adopting a six year old is we get to sleep through the night.

Another good thing is a couple of days ago, Emma started referring to herself as "Emma." Before that, she would refer to herself as "Girzheva" (her previous last name) or "oo-ya" (her way of saying Yuliya) Now when she sees a picture of herself she says "Emma Carter." I'm quite happy about that...I was hoping she would have her name figured out before school started!!

Speaking of school....ugh!! I just don't know what to do. I called our school division today, hoping they would give me some guidance. I explained the situation with Emma and how she may need some extra attention and was asking which school in our city would have the best program for her. The response I got was "pick the school nearest to you and throw her in grade 1." Not quite the response I was looking for. Now it's a matter of waiting till next week when the schools are staffed and phoning each one individually to see what they can offer. Not my idea of fun. :(

Friday, August 15, 2008

Home Almost One Week

I must say it again....I LOVE Canada!! It is so great to be home. Things are starting to settle down now that I've caught up on a little bit of sleep. And when I wake up now, I know where I am and am so happy to be here. For those of you who hate doing laundry...go live in Ukraine for 2 months! I was never so happy to see my oversized front end loading machines when I got home!! Washing and drying clothes is a blast now...and every morning being able to dry ourselves off with dry towels that don't stink after a HOT doesn't get any better!! :):)

Emma is settling in just fine. Our biggest problem is still communication. So many times she'll repeat something over and over again to us and we have no idea what she wants. And many times we'll tell her something over and over and she doesn't understand. It makes discipline difficult. Sometimes we can't tell if she's not listening or she just doesn't understand. Oh well, it'll come. At least that's what everyone says. She is starting to repeat things alot better than before. She learned our dogs names very easily. It seems if it's something she likes, she'll learn it or repeat it without hesitation...such as yogurt. The girl is NUTS over yogurt...she wants it all the time! And when she eats it, she licks the container until it's spotless. I always make her say "yogurt please mama" but when she says it, it sounds like "yo-dirt plez mama." She's trying!!!

Grandpa came over the other day with a brand new bike for Emma. It's a shiny red and white 2 wheeler with training wheels. I've never seen Emma as excited as when grandpa opened the back door of his van to reveal her new bike. She squealed with delight and was jumping up and was too cool! When we finally got it out of the van and put a helmet on her, all she could do was sit on it. Terry pushed her around and tried to push her feet to get her to pedal, but nothing seemed to be registering...she just couldn't figure it out. I think she was just so overwhelmed! It's hard to believe that just a couple of weeks ago she lived in an orphanage and had absolutely nothing and now she owns her own shiny new bike!! Hopefully she'll figure out the pedalling and balancing soon so we can go for bike rides together.

I'd like to say everything has been sunshine and roses since we got home, but we have had our fair share of stuggles. There have been a lot of tears and tantrums as Emma tries to push and see just how far she can go with us. We have to choose our battles wisely. You have to remember, we are new to Emma and she is just learning to trust us, so we don't want to scare her away. But at the same time, we have to set boundaries or she will continue misbehaving inappropriately. I'm not saying she's bad all the time, in fact the majority of the time she is happy and we all get along. It's just that when there's a battle, it's usually a big one!!

Grandpa has been over a few times. Emma really enjoys it because he speaks Ukrainian. The two of them just talk up a storm!! And grandpa was nice enough a couple of days ago to let Emma style his hair (picture below) She also styled her own hair along with mine.

Terry went back to work yesterday, so now it's just me and Emma. It seems strange that I don't have to go to work, but all the paperwork I need to get completed will keep me busy for awhile...EI, child tax benifit, social insurance number, apply for citizenship. I also have to figure out where she'll got to school and we need her to see an adoption doctor and the dentist in the worst way. Anyone know of a dentist who sedates patients? I can guarantee you there is no way she'll open her mouth for a dentist!!

New Bike!

Emma Styles Grandpa's Hair

Monday, August 11, 2008

So Glad to be Home!!!

Our flight home was very reminiscent of our entire trip to Ukraine. It did not go well. Our first flight was to Vienna. It was only a two hour flight, but when it came time to land there was a problem. We were descending, descending, descending...and all of a sudden the plane starts climbing again. Me, being the totally cool, calm, non-panicy flyer that I am, immediately began to think the landing gear??? Not too sure what the problem was, but we flew around for a little while and then landed with no problems.

Our connecting flight was to Toronto...9 and a half hours. We were dreading that one. It was SOOOOOO long. Then when we got to Toronto it was storming. Apparently during thunderstorms, planes can not land or take off, so we got to fly in circles over the city for an exta hour until it was safe to land. Ugh! So now we were running behing for our next flight to Edmonton because we still had to get through customs and immigration. So we are running like mad through the airport to catch our next flight. The immigration lady told us all kinds of stuff which I can't recall because we were in such a hurry. Hopefully it's not too important!

We made it to our next flight on time, just to find out it was delayed as the pilots had not yet made it to Toronto because of the thunderstorm. So we waited an hour to board the plane. Finally we got to board. Once all passengers boarded the plane, an announcement came on that the pilots were still delayed. Long story short...we had to sit in the plane another hour and a half until it finally took off. We were supposed to land in Edmonton at 8pm but didn't get home until close to midnight. Let me tell you....I do not want to go on another plane trip for a very long time!!!! does that sound like quite a trip, or what? Add into the mix a 6 year old. I must say, she did very well for the most part, but by the end she was getting irritable. Can't blame was I. On our 10 hour flight we were not booked seats together. In fact, each of our seats was about 10 rows apart. We explained our situation to the flight attendants to see if we could get seats changed so we could all be together. Unfortunately, there was only 1 person on the plane who was willing to change seats, so only 2 of us could sit together. So Terry and I did rotations sitting with Emma.

It was SOOOO great to see our family and friends when we landed in Edmonton. That, on top of the fact that we were in Canada, such a blessed country, was very overwhelming to me. There's so much we take forgranted here. I knew that before we left, but I don't think people truly understand it until they've experienced another part of the world. My first shower at home was the best shower I've had in my entire life!!!!!

Emma was very excited when she got home. Our house had been decorated by our dear family with a ton of helium balloons. Her new bedroom was also set up and decorated and filled with new toys. It was quite an experience for her. We celebrated with chocolate cake and iced tea. Emma didn't get to bed until 3 am.....that's 28 and a half hours since we got up to catch our plane. She only got a couple of hours sleep during the trip home. Terry and I stayed up till 5:30am unpacking. Then I was up at 6:30 with Emma. Needless to say, yesterday was not a good day. With the lack of sleep, Emma was quite a terror. It'll probably take a few days to get sleeping patterns back to normal with the time change. Emma got more sleep last night and did much better today.

I, on the other hand, have not adjusted to the time change at all. I've had very little sleep the past few days and feel like I'm running on fumes. And when I do doze off here and there, when I wake up I can't figure out where I am. It's all very strange. We've been in Ukraine so long, I keep thinking we're there. At one point last night, I rolled over and saw one of our dogs laying on the floor and was completely confused as to why she was in Ukraine. I know...I'm kinda losing it. :) I'm hoping for a better rest tonight so I can get back on track!

One other thing that's funny is our language. We got so used to saying things like "yes, no and thank-you" in russian and we catch ourselves still doing that here. I had to laugh at Terry today as he was talking to one of our dogs and telling him that he was "dobre" (good) I told Terry our dogs don't understand russian. He didn't even realize he had said it!

I've posted some long awaited pictures below. My favorite is actually a shot that was taken by our American friends. It's of Emma eating water melon. Another favorite is the day we picked up Emma from the orphange and I got a shot of her waving good bye to all her friends.

I also wanted to say a HUGE thank you to our family and friends for all of your support over the last two and a half years. We have had so much prayer support as well as many financial donations which helped out so much. Thanks to our family members who took care of things while we were away...getting our mail, paying our bills, getting Emma's room set up. We were overwhelmed by everyone's love and generosity. Also, thanks for all your emails while we were away...they were the highlight of our days. We can not say thank you enough. And thank you in advance to those I know will continue to be a huge support. We love you all so much!!!

Emma Waving Goodbye to the Orphanage


Friday, August 8, 2008

Last Post From Ukraine

This is the last time we will be online before we leave. Don't worry. Many of you have been requesting that we continue the blog when we get home...of course we will. We need to put some pictures of Emma on when we get home.

It's hard to believe we're leaving in the morning. It hasn't quite sunk in yet. We've been here for so long, it feels like we live here. It's the strangest feeling which I don't expect anyone at home would understand, but Terry feels the same way, so I know I'm not going crazy!

God gave us a beautiful final day here in Kiev. The weather was perfect and we got to do some last minute souvinir shopping. Unfortunately, purchases were very small due to the lack of cash flow after living here for so long, but we were able to pick up some keepsakes for Emma when she gets older.

Today we took our last underground train ride, took our last walk for a meal, ate our last authentic ukrainian perogies (which are yummy, by the way) We took our last walk through independence square. There is a big, beautiful church there with many gold domes on top. When the sun hits it just right, it is absolutely beautiful. It is one of the very few things I will miss about this country.

This whole experience is definitely the hardest thing we've ever been through. For me, there have been many tears, but also many happy memories. For any of you out there who ever think adoption is the easy way out, think again. And just a warning, if someone tells me that to my face, I might break your knee caps!!! LOL!!!!:):)

Jen, I have to apologize, I didn't find any crab chips here in Kiev. They seem to only be in Donetsk, and I wasn't about to take another 12 hour train ride to taste them. Maybe next time...not!

Well, nothing left to do for us now except walk back to our apartment, finish watching our movie and go to bed.....and then wake up and leave :):):) We are so excited to see our family and friends at the airport. Just a warning, though. All three of us might be bawling our eyes out!!!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Chillin in Kiev

We made it to Kiev yesterday after a boring 4.5 hour drive. Tough to keep a six year old entertained for that long. We wish she was like a normal kid who would fall asleep in the car!!!! She's just always so excited to see where we're going. I think she's waiting for the grand finale...our house. We keep telling her about the long plane ride. She doesn't know what we're saying until we stick out our arms and make engine sounds...then she smiles.

The first little while at home may be a little tough on Emma. We thought the culture shock here was hard on us....she's only six. Soon, everyone will be speaking a language she does not understand. She'll be living with two old people instead of a building full of kids. Shé'll be learning that not everything is a toy (namely light swictches and remote controls!!) It will probably also take a little while for a new sleeping routine with the time change. We leave here on Saturday at 8 am (which is Friday night 11pm your time) We will be landing in Canada Saturday at 7:59pm your time, which will actually be Sunday at 5am to us...we could be a little whacked out for awhile!!!

Today we go to the Canadian embassy for Emma's visa. Things have changed since we got here...Emma's learning about holding hands. In Oxtnpka, we let her roam free because it was a small town. Kiev is so big and so busy (plus she doesn't watch where she's going...she gawks at everything) we could easily lose her. It was a bit of a battle yesterday. She cried the whole time as we walked holding hands. Today was better, though. She's learning!

Our apartment here is quite disappointing....and expensive. It is extremely dirty. Hot water seems to be intermittent. The furniture is so gross and dirty I have a hard time sitting on it. All of this for $130 US a night....what a deal! Thank God we're only here for a couple of days. Oh...and the internet connection in our apartment. It's a fifteen minute walk to the internet cafe.

Gotta go...Emma's getting restless and is starting to punch all the computer keys!!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

So long Oxtnpka!!!

Yes, that is the proper spelling (except the N should be backwards) Now you know why it took me so long to get the pronounciation. I'm afraid we've been in Ukraine so long, I actually am able to read alot of cyrillic. Unreal.

We've been in this town for 24 days and are looking forward to going back to's one step closer to home. The night before last, the ladies who work at the hotel came to our room and brought us some small gifts. It was very thoughtful. They wished our family good luck and all wanted to say good bye. I must say the service at this hotel is above and beyond anything else we've seen in Ukraine. We won't miss the town, but we will miss the new friends we made here. We did exchange email addresses, so we'll be able to keep in touch. I was just about to post a picture we got with the hotel staff, but at the last minute I realized Emma was in it....sorry about your luck!

Things with Emma are still going well. I brought Children's gravol for the airplane ride, so hopefully all will be good. If not, I have gravol for myself as well :)

Potty training is getting better. No accidents for about five days. We take her every couple of hours. We also have to wake her up and take her a couple of times in the middle of the night so she doesn't wet the bed. There has been a time or two when she has actually gone to the washroom on her own, so we're happy about that. We're heading in the right direction anyway.

We also spend a few minutes a day going over numbers, colours and alphabet. Right now we're just at the repeating stage. She can't take much, but hopefully spending time each day will help her to learn.

Our taxi to Kiev leaves in a couple of hours. Time to go eat before we leave. Not too sure what our internet situation will be when we get there. If you don't hear from us in the next few days, we'll see you all when we get home!!!!!:):):)

Monday, August 4, 2008

Safety First

I can predict what will probably be the biggest battle with Emma when we get on the airplane on Saturday and when we get home.....seatbelts. Cars in Ukraine have seatbelts, but you can't usually find them. They're usually tucked behind the seats. Every time we go in a cab with Emma, she is either sitting on one of our laps or laying across us. She'll have it no other way. And how do you explain to a six year old who doesn't speak English that she has to put a seatbelt on for her own safety and it's the law? Please pray!

Safety standards in this country sometimes make my jaw hit the floor. It's not even close to Canada. I guess it's because no one can afford to hire a lawyer to sue. There are huge holes in the sidewalks everywhere. Big, sharp pieces of metal coming out of the ground. And remember how I told you most people in this town ride scooters? We've seen three people squeeze on a scooter. If someone has a child, they just place them between their legs while they're riding. It's unreal. And, yes, of course, they are also on the highway. And helmets? I don't think they even know what they are in this country. I've held my breath many times on the highway on the way to the orphanage while our great big van passed these tiny little scooters with maybe a couple of feet between us and going 100km and hour. It's scary.

Oh, and car seats....what are those? The other day a car drove by and there was about a two year old standing on the back seat looking out the window. I guess to the Ukrainians, this is all normal to them. There have just been so many things in this country that are SO completely different from home....including banks.

For all of you at ATB, I've been meaning to write about the banks here for quite some time, just haven't had the chance. I know I had a conversation with Bissel before I left regarding whether or not we were going to use a bank to hold our money...the answer is no.

We've been in a couple of banks to try and exchange some money. And being a banker, I was curious to see exactly what goes on in the banks here. Well, the answer is NOTHING. The couple of banks we went in to were like ghost towns. Not a single customer. I asked our translator about this, and she told me that no one here uses banks. Why? Either they have no money and also, they don't trust them. Something happened many years ago (and I'm sorry I don't know exact facts) where the leader of the country changed and when this happened, everyone who had money in the bank lost it. It all just disappeared. This actually happened to our translator's mom and dad. People lost everything and were devestated. Since then there has been no trust. Same with insurance companies. We asked about insurance here and our translator told us no one pays for it because they don't trust the companies.

Here's some interesting facts on the economy of Ukraine. Inflation over the last couple of years has been 50%!!!! Crazy!!! Interest rates right now for a loan are between 15-20%. I imagine because inflation is so high. But here is the backwards part. Economists here advise citizens that when they make money, the MUST spend it immediately. They say that if they don't spend it right away, inflation will just keep rising and eventually they will not be able to afford anything. And the crazier thing is, that's the advice people in this country live by. Even our translator, who I think makes a decent amount of money compared to the citizens of Ukraine (average income per person is $200/month) lives by this method. We asked her about saving for retirement...she told us the kids take care of the parents. Pretty hard to wrap my brain around all this after just taking the IFIC course!! :):)

That's all for now. Like I've said, we've seen so many unbelievable things since we've been here. So many times, I've wanted to take a picture, but I really don't want to offend anyone here. I was able to sneak a picture a couple of days ago. I've posted it below. You will see a woman with a stick in her hand. At the bottom of the stick is a blade. She waves this stick back and forth to cut the grass. And she's not doing a yard....she's doing an entire field!!!!!