Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Grand Cayman

I was SO bummed this morning when we woke up to pouring rain. As we got up and got ready so early and then travelled by tender to land, I wondered why the heck we even bothered getting out of bed.

We had originally booked a snorkel and sting ray tour, but upon getting to land decided to take a bus tour so we could try and stay a little bit dry. The bus tour was actually pretty cool. Best part was turtle island. Hundreds and hundreds of sea turtles. It was amazing. And we got to pick 'em up and play with them, big ones and baby ones!

By the time our bus tour ended....hallelujah, the sun was blazing! We made our way back to the ship and saw that our snorkel/stingray tour was still available. We hopped on a bus, which took us to a boat which took us out to the middle of the ocean (sandbars). We were then able to hop off the boat into crytal clear warm water to do a stingray encounter. I would highly recommend this to anyone who comes to the area. Touching and holding the stingrays was incredible! Unfortunately, Emma was completely terrified and ended up back on the boat to observe.

Next it was off to a reef for snorkelling. The water was 10-12 feet deep, so being the non-swimmer that I am I decided to stay on the boat with Emma. After Terry had been out for a few minutes, he insisted that I put on some snorkel gear and come have a look. I very hesitantly did so (ok, he had to beg me, I was terrified). I got in the water and put on the gear and took a quick look under the water. Again, very cool. But when I looked up, the current had already pulled us about 50 ft from the boat. I started to panic and Terry had to help me back to the boat. Thank goodness we made it, it was very scary for me!

We just got back on the ship and cleaned ourselves up and are heading off for another awesome meal.

Such a great day today! My first time swimming in the ocean! :)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Cozumel

I've tried and tried to upload pics to blogger and it just won't work. Must be the crappy internet here on the ship. A bazillion dollars a minute and the slowest connection in the world. So, a quick rundown of our last couple days....

Yesterday we enjoyed a relaxing day at sea and a fun formal night. Emma and I got our hair done all fancy in the salon and dressed up in our best dresses along with all the rest of the family. We enjoyed a super fancy dinner in the restaurant, the special being a lobster and shrimp dinner. Mmmmm, SO GOOD. And the best thing about being on a cruise if that if you're not full after your first lobster meal, you just go ahead and order another one! There were a few people in the family who took advantage of this. Terry had prime rib dinner with lobster for dessert. :):)

After that we went for family photos. Unfortunately, we weren't able to get a photo with our whole crew, as one of Terry's sisters succumbed to seasickness and stayed in her room most of the day. Hopefully on the next formal night we'll get a shot of all nine of us.

Today we ported in Cozumel, Mexico. Weather was overcast, but warm at first. We had our excursion booked at an all inclusive beach resort with Terry's sister and niece. We mainly sat around on the beach, while the girls enjoyed time in the pool and in the ocean. Terry and I also did a couples massage at the spa...my first massage ever. It was fabulous.

After coming back to the ship to clean ourselves up, we headed out again to do some shopping. We bought a bunch of stuff, but got caught in a torrential downpour on the way back to the ship. We were soaked. We were glad that we had left Emma back at the ship to play at the kid's camp.

That's all for now. Sorry no pics. Will try to update pics on facebook, but not sure if that will work either. If not, I will post more when we get home.

Love and miss all you family!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Hello, from International Waters

Hey there!
Found a few minutes to squeeze in a post. I've decided posts will be short and sweet. Internet on the cruise ship is about a bazillion dollars a minute! I'm typing as fast as I possibly can, so sorry if there are any typos!

Made it safely to Miami yesterday, despite a few delays. Apparently there were a few nasty storms across the US that caused many problems for the airline. One funny story: About 10 minutes after our flight left Edmonton, Emma was looking out the window and saw some lights. She turned around and asked me "Mommy, is that Florida?" LOL! Poor kid didn't know how long of a day she was in for!

We stayed our first night in Miami. It was super humid due to some torrential downpours they had the day before we got here. But what an amazing feeling to step out of the airport into this warm weather!

Today was spent embarking on the cruise ship and getting our bearings. The best part was leaving the hotel and grabbing a taxi for all nine of our family members and luggage. They were trying to convince us that we needed two vehicles, but we are cheap and insisted on the one minivan. Only $25 for nine of us and all our luggage to the cruise ship...squishy, but a great deal! :):)

Sorry, can't put pics on right now. Tried twice and wouldn't work. Not going to waste any more precious internet minutes tonight. Bye for now!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Only 2 days to go!

Somehow this past few weeks has gone by in such a blur. Crazy busy at work and trying to plan and prepare for our upcoming trip has been time consuming. I need a vacation from planning this vacation already! Thank goodness I took a couple days off beforehand to finish up those odds and ends.

The house is cleaned, aside from the tree being taken down tomorrow (sniff, sniff!) Oh well, I'm sure I won't miss it after we leave. Bags are pretty much packed as we took the time to "practice" pack a little while ago. Why, you ask? Well, we decided after hauling 2 large suitcases and 2 carry-ons to Hawaii last year, and 3 large suitcases and 2 carry ons all across Ukraine for 2 months, that packing around all that stuff sucks. I guess we are a little bit more seasoned now when it comes to travelling. This time around, we each get one carry-on suitcase. Yup, that's all. Well, except for my purse and our laptop bag. So you can see why we need practice. Fitting everything I'm going to need for 2 weeks in a small carry-on suitcase is a challenge. Thank goodness Emma doesn't need alot of room for her stuff, so I can sneak some of my stuff on hers. :):) Otherwise, it would never happen.

Just wanted to put on a quick post today because I don't imagine I'll have alot of time before we leave. The laptop is coming with us, so we can keep in touch with family and friends by e-mail and FB. The big question remains...to blog or not to blog? I'm not sure how it will go. I would love to blog about our entire journey, but will I have time? I will, afterall, be on vacation. We'll see. I'd like to try.

Take care, and a very Merry Christmas to all of our family and friends. You will all be missed!!!!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Oh Christmas Tree!

Yes, it's done. In fact, it's been done since November 11. Family tradition. Every year on Rememberance Day we put up the tree. A little crazy, we know. But if you saw the time and energy we put into it, you'd understand why we put it up so early (or "hang the tree" as Emma would say) We need some time just to sit back and enjoy after all is said and done. And we're not people who keep their tree up well into the new year. See, to us that's crazy. Once Christmas is done, down comes the tree and decorations and on with regular life.

And this year the tree is coming down extra early. In all these months, I've been too busy to mention our upcoming Christmas vacation. What better way to celebrate Christmas than on the beach? So the tree will come down before we go. It was a debate about whether or not to even bother putting it up, but we thought it best to put it up for Emma. This is "the year" that everything is more exciting now that she knows what's coming up. The hard part now is trying to explain that we won't be home for Christmas. If you ask her what's happening at Christmas, she'll tell you we're going on a plane to sleep on a really big boat and swim with the fish. LOL! I can't wait to see her face when she experiences so many new things. When we stayed in a hotel in Calgary over the summer, she thought that was the coolest thing ever. Wonder what she'll think of a cruise ship?

Here are some shots of all our hard work:




The finished product:

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Halloween and School Blues

Hmmm, where to start? With the good or the bad? Well, let's start with the good because the bad is much harder to post.

Emma had an awesome halloween. Once again our little princess chose to be a princess. I don't think she really gets the whole costume thing yet. She's just always looking for a reason to wear a pretty dress, and halloween just happens to be one of those days.

It was so much nicer this year having a child who can understand english. I'm sure I'll be mentioning that with every major event that I post about! To be able to tell her what's coming up and seeing her excitement is so much better than a dazed, confused, tantrum throwing child. I am starting to see more clearly that alot of the issues we dealt with last year were due to her frustrations of not knowing or understanding what was going on. This year, she's had the experience of doing things last year AND we can explain to her what's going to come. Makes life a little simpler! :)

Trick or treating went well. Emma wanted to keep going no matter how heavy her bag got or how cold it was. She's still afraid of the scary halloween stuff, though. Any houses decked out with scary decorations required a parental escort to the door. At one point, a lady opened her door to give Emma some candy who had a scary mask on. Emma must have had quite the terrified look on her face because the lady quickly ripped off her mask with a "Sorry sweetie, did I scare you?"

Other than that, it was a typical halloween. Tons of candy which is almost gone. I hate to admit that mom and dad have been into the candy. Sigh. Back on the diet next week!

Here are some pics:




Time for the bad stuff, I guess. I'm not too sure how much I will share at this point because, let's face it, not everyone out there on the web needs to know all of our personal problems.

We FINALLY had Emma tested by her school, after tons of nagging on my wonderful husband's part. Apparently this specialized testing (psychological, behavioural, IQ, etc.) is what's needed to qualify special needs kids for extra funding to get the one on one help that they need. We got the results back on Friday. I'm not going to get into detail about the results, but let's just say that as we were being told, I felt a little bit of excitement knowing that Emma would finally get the help she so deserves.

Well, my excitement was shattered at the end of the meeting when the examiner pretty much told us and the teachers to "keep doing what we're doing" and hope for the best. I was devestated. I came home and cried my eyes out. Yup. That's me. A big suck. I just feel that we are so alone in this. No one out there wants to take time to help Emma to develop to her full potential except for Terry and I. I just don't get why? Maybe people feel there is no hope for her? I don't know.

Here comes my selfish, whiny side. How I wish I could be like other parents who send their kids to school and have them come home and just be a kid. Oh, how I wish Emma could just come home from school, tell me what she learned and we could just play and enjoy the rest of our time together. Instead we spend hours working on concepts. Concepts that are repeated and repeated that she still can't grasp. And our poor kid has to deal with our growing frustrations and lack of patience with her, as we both try to maintain our jobs and household, trying to find every extra minute to squeeze in some teaching time.

This is where guilt comes in. Sometimes I feel like such a rotten mom. I'm guilty for not spending enough quality time with Emma. After having a full day of work, coming home, making supper, tending the house and spending time on homework, it's difficult to find the energy to play. I'm also guilty for being too hard on Emma. It is so frustrating to do something over and over again and have her not understand it. Terry and I both find ourselves losing it sometimes, which we KNOW is not going to help the situation at all. And I hate to say that all of this stems from fear. Fear of what Emma's future holds. I worry as she gets older, things will get harder.

Now I know guilt and fear are things that I need to just give over to God. It's just hard sometimes. Well, for me. Ask Terry about any of this and he'll be quick to say, "Don't worry about it. Everything will work itself out." I hate to admit that he's usually right in this area. I just wish I could change my outlook to be more like his. I love Emma so much and really want the best for her, as I'm sure every parent would want for their kids. I am just so thankful that she was not left in Ukraine. I shudder to even think what would have happened to her should she have aged out of the orphanage.

Well, I feel a little better now that I poured out my heart. Thank you to all of you who respond and show support and have offered suggestions. How we're going to proceed now, I'm just now sure. I hate to say I've pretty much accepted defeat where the school is concerned.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Happy Birthday!!!!!!

This past weekend, we had the joy of celebrating Emma's eighth birthday. Technically, her second birthday with us, but in my eyes the first. Last year when we celebrated Emma's first birthday in Canada, it was more of a gong show than anything. She had only been here for two months and everything was so new to her. Attachment was still a huge issue, and any overstimulation of anykind seemed to regress any progress that had been made. Prior to Emma's birthday last year, our outings were extremely limited and guests in our house were limited as well. We were really working hard on getting her to settle in and find her place in our family. But when birthday time rolled around we thought (as I'm sure many of you would agree) how can we not celebrate this little girl's first birthday in Canada? Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

But did we ever pay for it. I just went back and re-read last year's post after Emma's birthdsy. Boy, did I ever sugarcoat things. I guess the birthday itself was not so bad, aside from a few meltdowns on little Emma's part. It was the aftermath when everybody left. Any progress we had made in attachment and behaviour was completely gone. I know it's probably difficult for people reading this to understand, unless you've been through this adoption process yourself. In fact, our family found it very strange when we once again sequestered ourselves in our house for a few more months, limiting guests.

I don't know how many times Terry would tell me, "Just wait a year, and everything will be fine!" I hated hearing that because first of all, I thought a year was way too long to be dealing with these issues, and second of all, I didn't believe him.

Fast forward a year........it's not very often that I say it, but you were right honey! :):)

Not only did Emma have a birthday party, she had THREE birthday parties! And one great thing about this year compared to last year is that she's now seen enough birthdays that she knows what they are. We were able to countdown on the calendar and build up the anticipation and excitement in her. The first thing Emma said to me when I walked in to her room the morning of her birthday was, "Mommy, are you going to say happy birthday to me?" I did, and then proceeded to torment her with presents scattered all over the house. She'd squeal with delight every time she found one and beg to know what each one was when I told her she couldn't open them till daddy got home. Before she left for school in the morning, she had a pile of gifts all stacked on the kitchen counter ready to be opened later.

So party number one was just us. Terry and I took Emma out for a nice dinner (adding a little more torture as she had to wait even longer to open presents!) When we got to the restaurant she asked, "Are they gonna sing happy birthday to me?" We pretended like we had no clue what she was talking about. I wish I would had taken the camera, because the look on her face when the servers came out singing happy birthday was absolutely priceless!

Then it was a rush to get home to open presents.......

video
Translation: Oh my gosh!It's a Tinkerbell...and wings!





On Saturday, Emma had her "kiddie" birthday party. She had some family members and friends from school come with us to a huge play place in Edmonton. The party was three and a half hours long and seemed to go by in about five minutes! It's alot of work managing all those little kids. Thank goodness we had help. My brother and sister-in-law were along for the ride. Little did they know I'd be putting them to work! I'm so glad they were there. If it weren't for them, I wouldn't have any pictures of the party:











Needless to say, she had the time of her life!

Next day, it was off to grandpa's house for thanksgiving dinner (the coldest thanksgiving we've seen in 50 years....ewwww!) But we had a wonderful time, and of course, had another birthday celebration for Emma with the family.





Last, but not least, was Emma's final present that came from Grandpa. I wish I could post the video, but it's far too long. All the jumping and squealing was quite a site to see as Emma laid eyes on her new bike.



Emma just had to take it out for a test drive. Did I mention that it was the coldest thanksgiving in 50 years? Oh, what we do for our kids!

So that was Emma's birthday weekend, and she handled it like a pro. There is absolutely NO way she would have handled this much excitement last year. This year, her behaviour was great, she was grateful for the gifts she received and most importantly of all, she still loves her mommy and daddy!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Routine

Well, we're a few weeks into the school year which has somehow turned my routine upside-down, hence the lack of posts. Blogging is getting more and more difficult to fit into the routine, but I thought I'd squeeze in just a quick update. I just want to say that I'm totally amazed by people who have more than one kid. This one keeps us fully scheduled at all times!

I guess the biggest issue we've been facing lately is spending time to do some school work with Emma. Unfortunately, after a whole day of school, we have to spend so much time doing the job that the school isn't doing. I'm at my wits end in this area. We finally started making some good progress with her over the summer, but now that school is back in, we've seen a lot of regression in what she's learned. Somehow, I convinced myself that this year would be different. Now that Emma has a better grasp on the language, I thought people wouldn't be so afraid of her and would be more willing to help out. Again, I'm wrong. We're still waiting for psychological testing that the school promised us last year, which now seems to be "on hold." And we've been reassured time and time again that even after the testing, she will not get extra help because she has come such a long way in the past year. I'm not sure what planet these people live on, but I wouldn't exactly call a seven year old learning her colours and shapes huge progress. I'm thinking that the ability to read and count might come in handy down the road for Emma, but apparently the school thinks she will get by on her own. As the six year old kids sit down and read their words and do their addition and subtraction, my almost eight year old has absolutely no concept what letters and numbers are for. Sure, she might be able to identify some letters and numbers for you. But she has no idea that when you put these letters together, they make words. And numbers...don't even get me started. There is absolutely no concept of what value numbers have and what they are for. If this doesn't constitute a "special needs" kid, I don't know what does! I hate to be jumping to conclusions, and possibly needlessly "labelling" my kid. That certainly is not my intention. It's so hard to know what's normal and what's not given what she's been through in the past. I just don't understand how anyone could possibly think that Emma can thrive in a regular classroom. On top of it all, after all the work we've done with her over the summer to help her do basic counting and writing correctly, we see blatant mistakes and seriously sloppy work getting check marks and happy faces from her teacher. ARGH!!!!

I sincerely apologize for the rant. I think I probably picked a bad day to post. It's just been one of those weeks. With Emma, everything is so "two steps forward, and one step back." I think this week we're having a "one step back" week. :( If there is ANYONE out there with ANY ideas as to how we can get some extra help, I would greatly appreciate your input.

On a positive note, we are very happy with our decision this year to ditch the dance classes and enroll Emma in gymnastics. Gymnastics is just as difficult to grasp for Emma as the choreography in dance. But the big difference with gymnastics is that Emma isn't being left by the wayside. In fact, out of all the different people we've dealt with in the last year, Emma's coach is the FIRST person we've seen take some time to help her. She is very patient in showing Emma how to do things, and rather than just overlook mistakes, she will make Emma do things again until she gets it right. And it's not just Emma, she does it with all the kids. This is truly something incredible to witness, which is sad to say. There's not many people out there who care to go the extra mile.

Well, enough whining for today. Here's hoping next week won't be as frustrating...:)

PS..I am so completely amazed how many of you are still following this little ol' blog. It makes me feel guilty when I see how many people keep checking back when I'm not updating on a regular basis. And also people on the other side of the world...how they ever came across this blog is beyond me! Please feel free to post comments if you'd like. I'd be interested to know how you got here and what keeps you coming back. It makes my posting feel worthwhile.:)

Friday, September 4, 2009

A New School Year


This is a picture of Emma on Wednesday, a few minutes before we left to her first day of school. Oh how this first day of grade one was SO much different than the last day of grade one! First of all, she knew what was going on this time. It's nice to be able to tell her that daddy will be there after school to pick her up and she actually understands...no, we're not dropping you off and leaving you there for good, like she might have thought last year.

Finding her classroom and meeting her teacher was so "normal." Teacher asked how she was doing, to which she replied, "good." She was able to find the desk with her name on it and then go find the locker with her name on it. She quickly placed all her belongings in the locker, gave me a hug and said, "I be miss you, mommy." With that, she quickly ran to her desk, blew me a kiss and with a big smile said, "bye mommy. Have a good day!"

I felt as though I should tell the teacher a little about Emma's background, not sure if anyone had given her the heads-up. But I was so enjoying this "normal" first day of school experience, I just waved and said good-bye!

Day two of school was a little harder for me. Last year, her classroom was right next to the door where you enter the school, so I literally walked her right to her classroom every morning. This year, she's WAY on the other end of the school and I'm not allowed to go in as I please. So when we reached the outside door yesterday I asked, "Are you sure you'll remember how to get to your new classroom?" And, of course, got a "yes mommy." As we stood there waiting for the bell to ring, a new little friend of Emma's ran up and gave her a hug. As I watched her little head disappear in to the masses of kids after the bell rang, I found myself fighting back tears. I stood at the door and watched until she walked all the way to the other end of the school and rounded the corner out of my sight. I just can't believe the difference a year made!



One little story (totally not related to school) I want to add before I go....When we first got Emma, she seemed to have absolutely no idea what money was for. We're not sure if she ever had any exposure to money before we got her. But whenever we were in a store, she would always want to carry what we picked up and would pitch a fit when we stopped at the cashier to pay for it. She always just thought it was immediately ours and we could walk out with it.

After living here for awhile, she caught on to the routine of getting our stuff, standing in line and then paying for it.

It caught us off guard the other day when we were in Walmart and Emma randomly picked up an item off the shelf. She held it up to Terry and said, "Daddy, how much bucks is this?" We had a good laugh over that one! :)



One last thing....the haircut. I'm still a little stunned over that one. Emma and I went for a haircut together before school started. We were sitting next to eachother getting our hair done by two different girls. I asked the stylist to cut Emma's hair shoulder length with some layer around her chin. Well, what you see in the picture is what we got. I had to pick my chin up off the floor when I looked over and saw how short Emma's hair was! Thankfully, the stuff grows fast! And she's so cute, it doesn't really matter anyway! :)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A New Canadian Citizen


Well, we've been home for over a year now and it's FINALLY official. I had no idea how much work it would be to make Emma a Canadian citizen. Going through all the paperwork again was very reminicsent of the adoption process. Ugh!

I finally sent off all required paperwork in January of this year. At that point I felt the worst was over and soon Emma would be a citizen, but alas, we recieved a letter stating that citizenship takes 12-15 months to establish once the government receives the paperwork...WHAT!!??!! I know it's alot of paperwork to go through, but 15 months? Seriously?

Turns out it only took 9 months. On August 4, Emma became a Canadian. She was very excited to see her new certificate and her shiny new citizenship card. And we were very excited knowing we could now travel with no restrictions. The day after Emma got her citizenship card, we were down at Canada Place applying for her passport. It should be here any day now...yay! Vacation, here we come! Christmas on the beach perhaps? We'll see!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

One Year Ago Today....

...Emma set foot on Canadian soil for the first time! And we returned to this glorious country after two months away. One of the happiest days of my life! Time to celebrate! :):)

Friday, August 7, 2009

Our Little Two-Wheeler

It's a miracle...it finally happened! The training wheels came off a couple weeks ago. I didn't think it would ever happen! If only you could have seen Emma a year ago when grandpa first presented her with her bike. She didn't have the foggiest idea what to do with it. For the first couple of months, we couldn't even get her to pedal! She would just sit on her bike or get off and push it around. Finally, in the late fall, our four year old neighbor taught Emma how to pedal.

We were so confident that balancing would come very quickly after learning how to pedal. Unfortunately, winter came and that ended our bike practice.

In the spring, we started up again. We tried to explain to Emma how to balance, but the concept just seemed a little too much for her. So we raised her training wheels to the highest level and Emma rode around, constantly at a 45 degree angle from one side to another. She wore those little training wheels right out!

Then one day, out of the blue, we noticed that she was balancing. It's just like something finally clicked and she got it. Shortly after that, the training wheels came off and she took off like she'd been doing it her entire life.

I was so excited and such a proud mommy. I was out there taking tons of pictures and video. I think I could equate my feelings with the way a mom feels when a baby takes it's first steps. It was such a huge accomplishment for her and it was wonderful to see how happy and excited she was. She kept riding around saying what a big girl she is. :) And then it was off to see all of our families and friends so she could show off her new skill.

video

Sunday, July 26, 2009

A Year In Pictures

I can't believe tomorrow will be one year that we officially became parents and picked up Emma from the orphanage for good! What a whirlwind it's been and how things have changed in a year. It's been very challenging, but equally rewarding.

In honour of the occasion, I've put together my first slide show. A lot of blood, sweat and tears went into it...it was far more work than I anticipated. Now that I've learned how to do one, the next one will be a cinch. I apologize in advance for the poor quality. Blogger just doesn't do justice to videos, but you'll get the idea.

For those of you out there in bloggerland who know how difficult and how painstakingly long it takes to get pics and video on your blog, I'm sure you'll appreciate it..... Enjoy!

video

Happy "Gotcha" Day Emma! We love you so much!!

PS..Happy "Gotcha" Day to the Johnson family, who picked up their little David the same time we picked up Emma. We love and miss you guys!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

My Turn!

Well, we're almost half way through our summer break with Emma. What Terry thought would be a nice relaxing summer spent with his daughter is turning out to be quite an ordeal. When I come home from work, I think he's way more stressed out than I am. This week, it was MY turn to stay home with Emma. Terry's work needed him back just for this week to cover where they were shorthanded. He was practically counting down the days to return to work!! He's considering this week at work to be his summer vacation!! :)

Being home this week with Emma, I can see why Terry's at his wit's end. We are being very structural with school work, and it is very difficult to have patience to teach a kid with a learning disablility. Not only is the learning disability an issue, but Emma's lack of enthusiasm and laziness just adds more frustration. I've seen Terry get very upset with Emma in certain situations. I try to remind him that if he gets Emma upset or scared, she will hate the learning even more. But I've also found myself losing patience and nearly losing it this week. There have been times where we've just had to stop what we're doing so I can take a breather. But for the most part, I think I'm a lot more calm and encouraging than my other half. He is very much the drill sargeant!

After being at home for only four days, we've discovered something...I am hands down a far better stay-at-home-mom than Terry...and he's quick to agree with that. Even though I haven't been feeling well, I can teach Emma 3 to 4 hours a day, run errands, keep appointments while keeping the house in tip top shape....cleaning, laundry, weeding, dog poop picking, and supper is on the table when hubby comes home. Compare this to when I come home from work when Terry has been home all day: House is turned upside down by dad and daughter. Dog's water dish is empty. Supper has not been started, must be started by me. Kid's hair has not been combed. There are lists EVERYWHERE (Terry needs lists to stay on task) I swear he has so many lists, he needs a list of lists!!:) Anyway, I don't mean for this to sound like complaining. I know Terry is doing his best and I'm thankful that he's home. I've just decided since seeing the comparison that I am born to be a housewife and stay-at-home-mom. If only it paid more. :( *sigh* If anyone knows of a good part time job that pays really well or something I can do from home that pays really well, let me know!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

One Year Ago....

Looks as though there might be a lot of posts titled "One Year Ago..." for the next little while.:)

I just thought that it would be worthwhile to mention that one year ago today, we met Emma for the very first time. It was probably the most exciting, happy, scariest whirlwind of a day in my life!

Summer, so far, has been going OK. It's a little difficult to leave to work every morning, while my two favorite people get to hang out at home. But I am managing. And Terry's doing a great job of being stay-at-home-mom and teacher. It's a little trying on his patience and he reminds me a little of a drill sargent. As far as I can see, he'll have Emma whipped right into shape before school starts in September!
One thing I am really enjoying is my lunch breaks. I come home for lunch everyday to a meal prepared and to great company. I love it! :)

Last weekend, Emma got to experience her first wedding. She was quite excited when I told her that there would be dancing. After arriving, she would ask about every thirty seconds...."Can we dance now? Can we dance now?" It's all she cared about. That, and the pretty white dress that the lovely bride was wearing. If ever there's a day where a little girl starts dreaming about her wedding, that day was Saturday for Emma!

In closing, I just wanted to share a little video of Emma from the wedding. Check out our little mover and shaker.......:)

video

Friday, June 26, 2009

The First Day.....and the Last Day



The first picture is Emma on the first day of school. The second was taken this morning, her last day of grade one. She may not look a whole lot different, but my goodness, how she's changed! I can see the difference just in her eyes. On the first day of school, she was afraid, apprehensive and quiet. Now it's quite the opposite. Her smile and energy light up the room when she walks in. And even though she is still immature for her age, she seems so much more grown up to me than when we brought her home!

Today I took the day off work to join Emma for a picnic lunch at school. She's not used to seeing me at school anymore since I've been back to work...only to drop her off in the mornings. It was so awesome when she opened her classroom door to find me standing outside. She screamed so loud, I think the whole school could probably hear, "My MOMMY's here!!!!" She ran to me and wrapped her arms around my waist for a tight squeeze. She then proceeded to run to the office and other classrooms to tell everyone that her mommy was there. I stood there, maybe a little bit proud, as other moms watched and wondered what I did to make my kid so excited to see me. Sigh...that's my girl...I love her so much!

I was strangely emotional today, being it's the last day of school. I'm having a hard time coming to terms with the fact that for the next two months Emma will be at home and I'll be at work. A few weeks ago, I eluded to something major happening at work. Some of you out there knew what was going on, but I tried to keep it under wraps until I knew what the outcome would be. The outcome of what you ask? After meeting with Emma's teachers and adoption pediatrician, we were advised that I should stay home with Emma over the summer. Our adoption specialist thinks that if we were to stick Emma with a new full-time caregiver, she would totally regress in her attachment. And the teachers at school strongly recommended we keep a school routine over the summer, so Emma does not lose what she has learned through the school year. So, we knew a sitter was not an option. I had letters from both the school and Emma's doctor, strongly supporting my leave of absense for the summer. SO, after I had been back to work for a month, I figured it was time to spring it on my managers. Somehow I had convinced myself that they would completely understand and I wouldn't have any problems. After all, they managed without me for a year, did they not? Boy, was I wrong! I was shot down so fast, I couldn't even believe it. They didn't even want to see the letters I brought in. I left their office devestated and totally p*$$*d off!

I couldn't post about this right after it happened, as I was likely to type something that could get me in a lot of hot water, possibly even getting me fired if someone from work happened to be reading this. Yes, that's how mad I was. Terry and I seriously considered me resigning. In fact, before I met with the managers, we had decided I would resign if they said no. But when the time came, I just couldn't do it. Why? I couldn't tell you. Every bone in my body wanted to quit right then and there, but I guess I didn't want to make a decision knowing how emotional I was at that moment. When I got home that night, Terry was glad I didn't quit. After we sat down and seriously considered our options, we realized me quitting my job was not one of them. :( It's not like it was a year ago, where you could go anywhere and get a job. It was too large of a risk for me, not knowing if I'd be able to find a job come September. Especially since things have been so flaky for Terry at work in this economic downturn. He is working far less hours than he used to and we just can't afford to live on only his income at this point. On top of it all, my rheumatologist wants to put me on some new medication that he is telling me will cost 10K a month!! The medication, however, is covered by my benefits at work. So, there you have it. I'm trapped there!

Don't get me wrong.... I really DO enjoy my job. I've been there for years, and I think I do a pretty good job. I've felt a real sense of accomplishment since I've been back and, of course, I'm happy to be making money again. :) It took a little while, but I've come to terms with the fact that I have to work this summer. So, now the question....what are we going to do with Emma? Well, if she can't have mommy, she can have the next best thing....daddy! Yeah, that's right. Terry's staying home (lucky bugger) His boss had no qualms about giving him the summer off. In fact, he has to hire someone to replace Terry for two months, since Terry is the only one in the shop who does his job. And, they are giving him the time as a temporary layoff, so he'll be able to collect EI. Not that it will even come close to replacing his wage, but it's better than nothing. We'll be back to pinching pennies again. :)

It won't be all fun and games for Terry and Emma this summer. As I mentioned, he will be setting up a daily routine (that's the plan, anyway) to keep Emma on top of her school work. We met with Emma's teachers a few days ago and decided to have Emma repeat grade one. Even though she has made a lot of progress in the last year, she still is not at a kindergarten level. It'll be interesting to see if the one-on-one teaching will work better for her during the summer.

We talked to the school about getting Emma more one-on-one help at school next year. Two hours a week just isn't cutting it. What a HUGE frustration!!! This year we were told that Emma needs a psycological evaluation to determine where she's at to get her the extra help. Unfortunately, the school would not do the testing due to the "language barrier." When we brought it up the other day, we were assured by the school that Emma has been immersed in enough english and that they would do the testing on her first thing next school year. I was so relieved to hear this, until the teachers informed us that even when Emma takes the test, she probably will not qualify for extra help. WHAT!?! Apparently, receiving aides is not based on your kid's learning ablilities. Only kids who aren't toilet trained or have severe behavioural issues qualify for aides. In fact, the teachers informed us that the help Emma received this year was far more than what she qualified for. I just don't get it! She has severe learning delays and she is an ESL student......and you're telling me she doesn't qualify for 2 hours a week?!? I can't believe how much our school system is failing our children. Terry and I aren't leaving this one alone. We'll keep trying to talk to higher ups until someone is willing to listen and give Emma the help she requires.

Well, that's all for now. I'm going to try and convince Terry that it's his turn to keep up the blog since today is his last day of work. He probably won't comply, so my posts may be few and far between this summer. I need to spend some time working on Emma's one year post-placement report for the Ukraine government. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

One Year Ago......

My, how time flies!

One year ago today, right at this very minute, Terry and I were cramped on a run-down, over-crowded plane somewhere over the ocean. We were heading for another country, or what seemed like another world, to embark on the wildest journey we could ever imagine. Who would have thought that exactly one year later, I'd be tucking my little angel all snug into bed, receiving a shower of hugs and kisses and "I love you mommy!" Who would have thought I'd be dealing with runny noses and scraped knees? Attending dance recitals and preparing for end of school parties? I'm still amazed at how much our lives have changed, yet somehow it's so natural it's as if we've been doing it forever.

Remembering our journey, once again, gives me a true appreciation of being home. It's funny, when we travelled to Calgary a couple weeks ago, I began to have some very vivid memories of our travel to Ukraine. Pulling out those suitcases, which were pristine a year ago, now tattered and dirty after being dragged all around Ukraine. As I packed, I remembered how much I hated living out of a suitcase, yet I am now very good at it.

Unfortunately, our travels to Ukraine do not bring fond memories. The sting of all the trials we went through are somewhat faded, but still overshadow our thoughts as we remember. But, our trials were not in vain. We are blessed to have such a light in our lives come from Ukraine. And not all memories are bad. We met some truly amazing people in Ukraine. Our facilitator and his family, whom we had only had email communication with for the previous two and a half years before our trip, seemed like old friends when we finally met in person. Our American friends, who God truly blessed us with. We were so thankful to share our journey and have the support of another english speaking family. The kids at the orphanage...brings tears to my eyes just to think of them...we had some incredible fun getting to know and spend time with them. How I pray that they all find their forever families. And we also met many people along the way, who despite the language barrier, went out of their way to show us extra hospitality. Gee, maybe the trip wasn't so bad! :)

I'm just a lot happier knowing we'll be spending our summer on Canadian soil this year!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

A Little about Our Trip

Well, our little mini-vacation ended up being alot of fun. The weather was absolutely beautiful and the first time this year I could wear a tank top and flip flops. :) I love it!

Our drive down was uneventful. Emma does well in the car. After about two hours of driving, she finally asked, "Are we almost there?" Terry and I burst out laughing. We were both wondering when those words would come out of her mouth!

I'll bet you've never seen a kid so excited to see a hotel room. Upon arrival, there was all kinds of dancing, clapping, whooing and jumping on her "new" bed. We stayed at three different hotels over the five days, and each one got the same reaction. The last hotel we stayed in was Emma's favorite. We stayed there for three days. She had her own bedroom with a TV. We don't usually let her use the remote at home (far too complicated with all Terry's "gadgets") but the one at the hotel was very straight-forward, so I taught her how to use it. Talk about addicted. I think she enjoyed using the remote more than she actually liked watching the TV!

Our first morning in Calgary was kind of a drag. We had to get up early for our appointment at the US Consulate to apply for Emma's travel visa. The appointment was absolutely not what I expected. In fact, I would describe the experience as, well, sort of --- Ukrainian. (No offense to the Americans reading this post!)

First off was trying to find the darn place. I was fully expecting to find something similar to the Canadian Embassy we saw in Ukraine. You know, a building fenced off with a flag blowing outside. When we neared the address of the building, I studied the surroundings carefully to find the American flag. No luck. I started to panic as we only had minutes until our appointment. We flagged down a local who pointed us in the right direction...into a regular looking office building. Hmmm. OK? When we entered the building, I thought for sure we were in the wrong place. A coffee shop, a drugstore and other shops lined the first floor almost like a shopping mall. But in the distance, I spotted a very official looking man who turned out to be the customs guy. We walked up to him and informed him of our appointment and that's when all the action began. Take off your coats.... show me this document and that document...show me proof of payment....stand here so I can scan you. He rushed us through this whole process so fast and then whisked us off to the elevators. When the door opened, he kicked everyone out and let us on. The Consulate was on the tenth floor. When we got there, the whole process of coats off and scanning happened again. We were given a number and shuffled into a room with about fifty chairs. Our number was next. We sat for about a minute before our number was called. We went up to a little window and passed over all of our documents which I had gone over a million times to make sure they were perfect. The lady asked us to have a seat and she would be with us once she had gone through the paperwork.

I couldn't believe how fast and efficient the whole process was going. We took our seat among the others and waited to be called back up. After about an hour, we started to wonder what was going on. We were SOOOOO bored because there was nothing allowed in the Consulate...no I-Pods, no cell phones. There were no snack machines or beverages of any kind. We watched as many people were called up to the windows and were getting denied visas for various reasons. I really prayed that we had not made the three hour drive for nothing. It reminded me of the SDA rejecting a dossier for forgetting to dot an I or cross a T. Don't get me wrong, I know it's serious business and they're not going to let just anyone into the US, I was just hoping I didn't forget a minor detail which would put our application in jeopardy.

FOUR HOURS LATER (ouch!!!!) we were finally called up to the window. Another typical Ukainian "hurry up and wait" experience. We walked a little apprehensively to the window, wondering what the verdict would be....."OH, she's your daughter? And your both Canadian? No problem!" What!? It took you four hours to figure that out!!! Whatever. I won't question the gracious people who have allowed us to travel with our daughter into their country. We were just very happy to have the whole thing overwith!

After that, it was off to the hotel for some fun....




Here we our enjoying our lunch at a beautiful outdoor restaurant....




We had lots of fun on the rest of our trip. We visited the zoo and even took a trip out to Banff so Emma could see the mountains.....



In Banff, Emma spotted some horses and said, "Can I sit on the back?" How could we say no? We enjoyed the most beautiful one hour trail ride through the mountains...





Overall the trip was awesome. I was a little concerned what effect the change in routine and being away from home would do to Emma. But everything went great. She behaved very well and we all had a lot of fun. Actually, the time together seemed to really strengthen our attachment which seemed a little bit diminished since I had returned back to work.

Things have been better since getting back as well when it comes to me working. Emma seems to be getting used to it. We make it a habit of her letting me call me at work after school and sometimes she and daddy come down and see me to bring me a slurpee. Emma really enjoys these things and it seems to be making the transition easier.

This week is a huge week at work. I can't go into any details why as of yet. All I can say is that I need a lot of prayer for favour. I'll let you know more later.....

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Upcoming Road Trip

Well, I thought I'd try and take a little time to post despite leaving for our road trip tomorrow. I have all kinds of last minute things to do, I may just have to stay up a little late.

We experienced a first the other day with Emma. She has lost her first tooth since being home. Here's what it looked like:

Yes, that's a look of utter fear on her face. We wrestled with the tooth all day long on Saturday, as it seemed to be hanging by a thread, but still refused to come out. Emma was not fond of our pulling, yanking and tying of string around her tooth. We tried to explain to her how exciting it would be to get money from the tooth fairy, but this didn't make things go any smoother. Finally, at the end of the day, I grabbed hold and yanked that sucker outta there. Emma's sheer terror turned into sheer delight when I showed her the little tooth in my hands. She screamed and jumped up and down exclaiming how she is going to get a "new, big one!" (tooth)
Amazingly, this is only the third tooth Emma has lost and she will be eight this year. I guess God is giving us some time to get some calcium into those adult teeth before they come through the gums! :)

The excitement continued the next morning as Emma woke up to money from the tooth fairy. Her big plans for the money: buy a slurpee for daddy and mommy. Sweet kid!

Tomorrow we embark on our first road trip. We will be heading out for five days to Calgary. We have an appointment for Emma at the U.S Embassy on Friday. We need to get her a visa as we plan a winter vacation to the U.S. She needs a visa as she is not yet a Canadian citizen. And, of course, the U.S. embassy is three hours away and she has to apply in person. It took us two months to get this appointment. But it actually turned out to work out quite well, because I have some work training to do in Calgary on Monday and Tuesday, so we'll spend the weekend and maybe try to have some relaxing family time. I dunno.....five days, three hotels.....not sure how the change of routine will be on Emma. The poor girl rarely gets to leave our house, let alone stay in hotels far away. Well, I'm hoping a good time will be had by all.

That's all for today. Time for me to start packin' and get the house good and spotless. And, of course, I have to find out who the new American Idol is! Or, as Emma would say, "Merkin-Idoe"

Saturday, May 16, 2009

My Little Dancing Queen

It's me again. I found a couple minutes to post today, so I thought I'd share a couple pictures. Emma had dance photos done a couple days ago. She had to dress up in her little dance outfit for her final recital. She's been so excited all week because she knew she would get to wear "nake-up and chapstick." (AKA makeup and lipstick) I can't believe how grown-up she looked. It scared me a little. She's going to be one beautiful girl when she gets older!



Week two of work went a little better than week one. It's still hard, but I'll keep on and hopefully after some time we'll find our new normal.

As far as blogging goes, I will continue on. My posts may be fewer, but as one of my blogging buddies pointed out, it's a great place to network and get support from others who've been through this whole adoption thing.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Back to Work

I'm seriously considering whether or not to continue on with this blog. Trying to work two jobs (one being mom, of course) is proving to be difficult and time consuming. Since going back to work a week and a half ago, this is the first chance I've had to sit down and post. The only reason I found time is because Terry goes out on Wednesdays and Emma is in bed now. If I do decide to continue on, I think Wednesdays will be the only day I will have time to sit down and post. (No post last Wednesday because I was having such a rough week that Terry stayed home to cheer me up. What a guy... I love him so much!)

So, as if you couldn't tell already, I'm not exactly thrilled with the whole going back to work thing. My first day back last Monday was SO hard! A lot harder than I thought it would be. I spent most of the day fighting back tears and hiding in my new office (which needed a thorough cleaning anyway) Terry and Emma came by after school and brought me some flowers. I totally lost it. I just couldn't believe that I was never going to be there to pick Emma up from school again. And losing out on extra family time is a total downer. I just got so used to being there all the time for them.

I hate to be such a whiner, because I know there are so many parents out there who don't even get the luxury that I had. Some come home with their new kids and have to return to work right away. Some don't have the luxury of not needing a sitter. It's these thoughts that have gotten me through this past week. I am so blessed to have been able to spend so much time adjusting to my new life as a mom and always being there for Emma. Now I need to learn how to let go just a little bit, I guess. We'll see. I'm still trying to convince Terry that I don't really need to work. :) LOL! He's not quite on the same page as I am, yet!

Another thing that's been getting me through is some of the people I deal with at work. There has been a huge staff turnover since I left, so many people don't even know me. But the ones who do know me seem very happy to have me back. I've worked with some of them for so long, it's like catching up with long lost relatives! And I've had so many customers stop by my office and even come give me hugs to let me know how happy they are that I'm back. It feels good to have been missed!

The hardest part about the last week and a half has been some regression in Emma's attachment. I firmly believe it has to do with me going back to work, but Terry swears up and down that something else must be causing it. (I think he's scared to admit it, as he thinks this may give me enough reason to stop working) I don't really know what to think. All I know is that it's really a tough thing to go through. Especially after all the progress we've made. So, we're back to making Emma's world small again to try and get her back on track.

Despite going through the hard stuff, we had some joy as I got to celebrate my first mother's day this year. It is so awesome to finally be able to celebrate this day, as the last few mother's days have been spent waiting for a void to be filled. Well, it finally is. I am so blessed!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Happy Birthday (to me!)



For my past few birthdays, I've been dreaming about being a mom. As we hit roadblock after roadblock during the adoption process, I often feared I'd be too old to be a cool mom. As I reflected on this during my 32nd birthday this week, I decided I'm still young enough to be a semi-cool mom!

Here are some of the pirks of me being a mom on my birthday this year:


Even though I know these required a lot of help from daddy, they meant so much to me. Emma has come such a long way from only being able to draw circles and squiggles when she arrived home.

Birthdays are generally a time of celebration. I, unfortunately, have been dreading mine. Not because I'm another year older, but because this is my final week of parental leave. I'm sad that tomorrow will be the last day I get to pick Emma up after school. I don't want to turn this into a whiny-blog, it's just that on top of going back to work right now, there are alot of other things going on in life that are a little overwhelming. I hope that I can keep it together as I face this big adjustment next week and any prayers of support out there are greatly appreciated.

Tomorrow I will go shopping to beat the blues. Time to blow that last EI cheque!

*Sigh* Goodbye EI.....you've been good to me.

Monday, April 20, 2009

A New Coundown....but not a good one :(

That's right. Only two weeks left until I go back to work. Where does the time go? I attribute my lack of posting to this. For those of you who know me well, you'll understand when you hear me explain how things have to be "just right" before I go back to work. Earlier in the year, I talked about how 2009 was going to be the "Year of Clean House." Yes, I know, my house is always clean. But I wanted to get down to the nitty gritty and get those not-so-fun jobs out of the way and purge our closets, drawers and basement of any unnecessary clutter. Somehow I thought this task would be easy to accomplish in the four months of leave I had left, but I was a procrastinator, and now I'm paying for it. I've been doing not-so-fun jobs around the house for the last two weeks and I'm not close to being finished yet. By not-so- fun, I mean those things that don't get done very often....pulling out appliances to clean behind them (ew!), cleaning light fixtures, on top of cupboards, in cupboards, baseboards, etc, etc. The list seems never ending. Oh! One of my major accomplishments is being able to declare our back yard "poop free" after taking days to clean the mess that our little poop factories have been making all winter long. So that's where I've been and that's why I haven't been posting...Not-so-fun jobs during the day and family time at night. It's hard to make time for the not-so-fun jobs while working, so I need to get them out of the way now.

I will admit going back to work makes me a little nervous and sad. I've been away for so long, I feel like I'm starting a new job. I was able to change my hours to be a little bit more part time so I will be home to drop Emma off at school in the mornings. Terry gets off work early enought to pick Emma up from school. We are very thankful for this, because even though she is adjusting well to her new life, a change in her routine (especially a sitter) could cause regression in her behaviour and attachment. We're hoping the fact that I won't be home after school won't affect her too much (sounds weird, but it can) I don't think it will, but I know it will definitely affect me!!! I love picking Emma up after school and having our afterschool time together. I will miss this time so much and get sad even thinking about it. I think it will take awhile for me to get used to the adjustment.

Another sad person will be my hubby. He has not so much as lifted a finger in this house over the last nine months. I've made sure that the house is spotless, driveway is shovelled, supper is cooked, etc. I even clean his car and take it in for oil changes. This will all change after I go back to work. We'll be back to dividing household chores and supper will be his responsibility. He is not looking forward to it. I absolutely love taking care of Terry and Emma and wish it could be my full-time job. Terry agrees. Unfortunately, it just doesn't pay enough. :( In fact, the one thing I'm looking forward to is finally getting a decent paycheck. Employment insurance just isn't cutting it!

So, I know you all want to know how Emma's doing. One word: Fantastic. She is such a blessing in our lives and it's hard to imagine life without her. It's the little things that totally make my day....

Every day while I'm doing Emma's hair, she sings. Not any song in particular. She actually makes them up as she goes along and none of them really make sense. But the other day, this is what she sang:

"I love my mommy.
My mommy so love me.
I gonna stay forever n' ever!"

I love that kind of stuff. Or when I go to Emma's school to volunteer for hot lunches.... I alway make sure to get there early so I get to pick Emma's classroom to deliver hot lunch to. Emma is always so excited to see me. If she spots me in the hallway, no matter what's going on in the classroom, she bolts from her desk and races out to come give me a hug (don't think Teacher likes this disruption so much, but what can I do? ;) Then she races back to tell all this kids, "That's MY mommy!"

We recently found out that Emma needed glasses. One of her eyes is lazy, so we have to patch up her good eye for four to six hours during the day to try and correct her weak eye with the glasses. We found a patch that actually covers the frame of the glasses and blocks her peripheral vision. It's quite the contraption, and her reaction the first time we put it on was priceless. It reminded me of when our dog, Tifa, had some surgery and we had to put one of those cone things on her head. She kinda just sat there with her head hanging down not moving or knowing what to do. That was Emma the first time we put the patch on. I thought we might actually get a rise out of her, but once we explained what it was for, she was totally fine. Now she always brings it to me and asks me to put it on for her. Here's a shot of her new glasses...sorry I don't have a picture with her patch on.


Easter for us was quite interesting. We don't usually do a whole lot for Easter, just a nice supper with the family. A day before the long weekend approached, I remembered "Hey, we have a kid now!!! We need to do something fun for Easter!" I know that sounds terrible. We're still getting used to this parent thing. I raced out to the store to get some egg decorating kits, which of course were all gone because I had left it till the last minute. I ended up settling for an Easter basket and plastic candy filled eggs for an Easter egg hunt.

The night before, we told Emma the Easter bunny would be coming with eggs to hide all over the house which we would have to find in the morning. We weren't sure she understood until we caught her sneaking out of bed the next morning already gathering up her eggs! Little stinker! Luckily she had only found a few, so we got to watch her excitedly search for the rest. She was also much happier after I gave her the basket to put them in.

BEFORE


DURING


You'll notice I only have pictures of Emma's back. Try as I might, I could not get her to stop and give me a nice shot of her putting an egg in her basket. She was not interested in stopping....only in finding those eggs! :)

AFTER



We went out to two Easter dinners that both went very well. We used to find going out or having company over was a little overwhelming for Emma and would really affect her behaviour. She seems to be getting better, although we still try to space out these types of visits. I know eventually it won't be a problem.

So, as you can see, life is good. Our only real issue with Emma has been her delays. I know I haven't posted much about this, but as I mentioned before, it's easy to post about the good stuff, not so easy to post about the not-so-good stuff.

We knew when we adopted Emma, she knew virtually nothing for how old she was. She didn't know any colors, shapes, numbers, letters, etc. We knew she was quite behind for a seven year old, but were determined that some love and attention would put her back on track. Well, there has been progress in this area, but it has been far slower and a lot harder than we imagined. For awhile there I thought she may never learn anything! Her first few months of school were very discouraging. But I think at first all the changes for her were so overwhelming that she wasn't really able to process anything else. Now we see some things are starting to stick, yet they are very basic things. Basically things that a toddler is learning. I'm kicking myself for putting Emma in grade one, knowing full well that she was not prepared for it. If I had put her in kindergarten, at least it would only be halfdays and she could have spent the other half with me. We tried for kindergarten, but the school wouldn't have it. She has learned very little from school, as she only gets one-on-one help for two hours a week. Yes, you read that correctly. This has also been a big struggle...one which we hope will be resolved for next school year.

Any advice or stories out there from other APs who have been through this would be greatly appreciated.

I'd like to go into more detail regarding school issues, but this post is getting super long. I'm also sorry this post has been all over the place! It's just been so long and I had so much to say.