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