Friday, February 21, 2014

court-side seats to their Boston TEA Party

There is a great deal going on in Ukraine right now...Its a huge fight for FREEDOM! People are dying for it. It is very similar to our Boston Tea Party...The people are trying to overthrow the government. It is very harry.
This poster tells what is happening to the protesters right now. Common people who are not happy with the route their leaders have chosen. We need to take a page from their book here in the states.  They are protesting in very creative ways. Like this 
You can read about it HERE. Basically they took a statue of Lenin and replaced it with this golden toilet because the President of Ukraine is rumored to have put in golden toilets in his estate....
There are also the Pianos...
Pianos painted in Ukrainian colors have been popping up everywhere. People sit down and crowds start singing traditional Ukrainian songs...You can see some of the Pianos HERE.
I liken the whole ordeal to sitting on the sidelines watching the Boston Tea Party take place. Ukraine people are struggling so hard to hold on to their freedoms and identity and Russia is making it so difficult to do so. You can read about what is happening right now HERE.



Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Sometimes there are Benefits

 
      I hesitate to even write a post about this because recently Chet and I were given an amazing benefit to having blind kiddos and I don't want to let the secret out of the bag. But I realize that their are lots of blind kiddos around here and they all might benefit from knowing the things we now know.  BUT, let me start at the beginning.  A few years back my parents took me and Chet and my brother and his new wife, and my grandparents to Branson for Thanksgiving. WE loved it and try as we might we haven't convinced our parents to do it again. So all this year I tried to get Chet to go but he never could seem to find a weekend that wasn't packed with family things....So that brought us to December and when looking at Chet's schedule we realized he was off for New Year's. So we got the hair-brained idea to go to Branson for New Year's. WE didn't even know if we could afford it. The tickets to Silver Dollar city alone is $50 a person. When we looked online there was a special for 35.00 tickets.
     It was looking like we could go and maybe go there and our favorite restaurant Lambert's "Home of the Throwed Rolls". I really thought the girls could enjoy the Dixie Stampede since they ride horses and since there is a meal served during the show which would keep them occupied. But tickets there were $50 a piece too and it was just out of our price range.  Well guess what? God works wonders, even in Branson. When we went to book our silver dollar city tickets online it told us to call guest relations and when we did we found out our girls got in for FREE. Yep that is right. FREE. So we got to go to the Dixie Stampede after all.
I love Silver Dollar City and this trip just made me love them all the more. ALL we had to do was go to guest relations and put the girls on their list. That way if there was an emergency the firefighters etc...would know they were in there. Then we went inside and what we didnt know was most if not all the rides had a disability entrance. This meant we didnt have to wait in line. And since Vika starts to hit herself or get violent if she has to wait it was a complete surprise. We were so thankful.
     Overall I would have to rate the Dixie Stampede as 3 out of 5 stars for being blind kid friendly. The kids enjoyed their meals (9 courses eaten with your fingers) which were so filling Lena got full. Which has NEVER happened. They also enjoyed some of the singing but they couldn't really tell what was going on in most of the show and Chet in an attempt to save money changed the seats farther back which didn't help at all.  Also the pre-show was a juggler and though he was good he definitely wasn't something for blind kids to see and so we sat for that and then felt like we wasted our time. I felt that the people at the stampede should have told us the pre-show act so we could know what we were up against. Vika was also very unregulated and so it was rough going that way too.
     WE are giving Silver Dollar City 5 out of 5 stars. They met and exceeded our expectations. The disabled parking was up close and the kid section was easy to maneuver for a blind kid as well as any
differently-abled kids. The kids playground had all these sound making toys that kept Vika super entertained and the staff let them on rides they were too old for just so they could enjoy something. The staff was super friendly. The Christmas parade was lights and sounds so the girls enjoyed that and the train was great as they had Christmas carol playing and a special entrance to get on. WE love to watch the Christmas tree but believe it or not Chet wore out before the girls did so we missed it this time.  WE will def. go back next year and feel that we will probably buy season tickets as it was fun for all.
     At Lambert's we give them 4.5 out of 5 stars for being blind kid friendly. The only thing they are lacking on is that there is a LOT of noise their but that would probably only bother you if you were sensitive to those things. When they were throwing the rolls the guy even "threw" one the Lena making sure that she caught it. WE love a place that sees she wants what every kid wants. And the food was amazing as always...The bathrooms were a little tight to maneuver but the resteraunt was easy to maneuver overall. If you had a kid in a wheelchair I don't know how that goes however.  All said it was a super fun time.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Vika at 8


In November we celebrated Vika's 8th birthday. Since she is so small for her age and about 3 or 4 developmentally, I was kinda sad to see her turn 8.  So since it was her 8th birthday I will tell you 8 things about Vika right now.
1. She is very opinionated about which shoes she wants to wear!
2. She will only smile or laugh when she means it. The picture above she was telling the photographer, "No smile..."
3. She was a wild thing for halloween.
4. Her favorite things to do are, play in the sink, cuddle, and ride an escalator. She also likes to go up and down steps.
5. She can make her wants known with 1-3 words. Just yesterday she started to say "I want" statements
6. She knows she is loved and has started to kiss when prompted.
7. She loves to ride Bosco the horse at therapy.
8. Sheis starting to learn her braille letters and how to type them on the brailler.
Here's to another year of learning and loving for Vika!



Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Parents Resource Weekend at KSSB

We are so excited for this Friday and Saturday. It is Parent's resource weekend at KSSB. I am hoping to meet lots of parents there and also excited for Lena and Vika to have more kids to interact with. WE are staying in the dorms so that too should be an interesting experience.  Lena is so excited to go and spend the night as she has been begging to do this...I really think she misses the social aspect of the orphanage....she knew everyone and had a run of the place as well as there were lots of friends to play with all the time.  Just like in the dorm. I personally and hoping to meet the writer of this blog http://peanutandphouka.wordpress.com/ as I saw on her blog about this weekend too.  It was the first time that I realized someone who was blogging lived really near to me.
This is the schedule for the weekend.
2013 KSSB PARENT AND FAMILY RESOURCE WEEKEND

November 22-23, 2013

Up-Dated Schedule

Friday, November 22

4:30-5:30 pm Registration in the KSSB Dining Hall
5:00-6:00 pm Meal for children and adults in Dining Hall
6:15-6:30 pm Families Together—What It’s All About
6:30-8:00 pm Crafts, Physical activities and Playroom for children

 Testimonials from various visually impaired and blind adults
Nancy Johnson—“A Blind Parent Raising a Sighted Child”
Kim Morrow—“The School Can’t Do it All”
Estin Telavera –“The Best of Both Worlds: My Story”
Helen Hahn—“Advances in Ocular Surgery; It’s Not Like it Looks on TV”

8:00-8:30 pm Snacks and socialization for parents and children in the Dining Room
8:30pm Return to dorm/home

Saturday, November 23
7:15-8:15 am Registration and Breakfast in Dining Room
8:15-12:00 pm Child care and programmed activities provided by KSSB staff
8:30-10:45 am A GPS Walk Through the Power and Light District with Craig Phillips and Company. We are encouraging family members to select one person to attend while the other attends the other options.
8:30-9:45 am Scott Truax from AFB, Kirby Hough from Alphapointe, and Susan LaVenture the president from NAPVI—“Daily Living Skills and Personal Management: Don’t Transition Without It”
Recommended for all ages and levels
10:00-10:45 am Robert Beech, Assistive Technology Specialist from KCKCC,
and Cheryl Covell from KSSB—“College: It’s Not Just High School
Part 2. Provides honest and factual information about what it takes to be successful in post-secondary
education. Recommended for parents of students of all ages who are considering their child for post-secondary education.
10:00-10:45am Sherry Kopaska—“Transitioning Into the Real World.” What it takes to be successful in transitioning  to pre-vocational and vocational employment, as well as quality of life experiences. Recommended for parents whose children have special needs that require prevocational/vocational training opportunities.
11:00-12:00pm Rand Hodgson, parent advocate and father of special needs children: Title TBA. Recommended for all ages/abilities.
12:00-12:30pm Lunch for children and adults, hand out information bags
12:30pm Travel Home Safely

I will be letting you know how it goes and posting pictures from our weekend. Pray for us that we are filled with knowledge and have a somewhat restful time in a new place.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Yesterday we went to see Mr. Doug.....

Who is Mr. Doug? He is an Ocularist. Someone who makes fake eyes or eye prosthetics. Here is Mr. Doug or "Bud" as he likes to be called making an eye for someone.
We went to see him with Vika to ask questions about cost and they types they do the surgery involved and so on and so forth. Here are some of the questions and answers that he gave me to them. 
The first question I asked was
Can you paint her fake eyes to look like her real ones? Why does it matter? Because Vika's real eyes don't look like yours or mine and I love them about her. I fell in love with those eyes in Ukraine and even in photographs before that.Yeah they aren't the eyes an artist draws that are perfectly symmetrical but they are her eyes.
His answer: Yes I can make them look like hers now. Right down to the muted blue color....he hopes we will chose a pretty bright blue but...he can understand painting them how they are and says he doesn't have many moms that want them to look the same after both eyes are removed.
(someone I had this discussion with said well don't you want them to look normal? No I don't want grotesque. Her eyes are pretty to me and not normal. What is normal anyways?)
What about extreme sports? Can she go tubing in them? He says no. Anything that has a blast of air or water you have to take them out. He said there are thousands of eyes at the bottom of all the Missouri lakes....lol from my experience there must be 1000 pairs of glasses there too.  So that means that when tubing, knee-boarding, water skiing, high dives, or parachuting, she will need to take the eye caps out then she is good to go.  You laugh but considering we have already gone tubing and Vika goes off the diving board, It is good to know these things.  How much will they cost? Each eye will cost about $2300 dollars. Zoikes!! considering that she could lose one ....wow that is pricey!! But considering each girls eye exam cost $4000 after insurance it is cheaper than an eye exam. I asked Bud about Pegged Motility implants...He said no doctor in the Kansas City area would do pegged implants and that they cause a LOT of problems but that the doctor would attach the muscles so if in the future pegging became better then it could happen. I have read that pegging makes the eyes move more natural and stay in better. Bud says that part is true but not worth it overall.  He said there are a lot of complications from it. He also said that she can remove the eye caps. They are not held in by anything but the eyelids so that is a possible struggle with some kids.  I asked him would we be able to see if there are problems with the eyes?....as Vika does not as of yet tell us if she is in pain other than screaming....and only rarely that. He told us what to watch out for he also told us about our insurances and what would be covered and all of that.....Overall it was a great and devastating conversation that no one wants to have. But he talked to us for over an hour at no charge and he answers his own office phone when you call him. You can see he genuinely cares for kids. 

Friday, October 4, 2013

The most interesting Pumpkins in the Patch

Last weekend we went to Johnson's farm in Belton, MO. WE went to Carolyn's last year but after getting in the door you had to pay for all the activities inside and then the pumpkins were pricey too. So this year we decided to try something new. It was $44 for us to get in the door. Still too much to pay but it was super fun and the activities inside were all included except buying the pumpkin and eating lunch.
First thing we did when we got there was milk a fake cow...I didn't get pictures, but actually it was a great fake way to get the feel of milking a cow. Then we met some of the animals. LATER we saw a sign that said don't touch the animals. OOPS! The sign wasn't brailled however so I guess we could claim we didn't see it.

Then we decided to check out the pig races. The girls seemed to enjoy "seeing" the pigs....I wish they could have touched them. Twice now they have been places that had pigs but neither place let them touch them.
After the pig races we checked out the baby animals. WE saw baby goats, chicks, ducklings, and pigs they were super cute, the people at the farm walking around dressed as garden gnomes, were walking one baby goat that we could pet and true to form he tried to eat the strings on my shorts.


After the baby animals we went to the playground which was a several stories tall set up with all kids of tubes and slides. The play equipment was fully fenced so it was great for keeping the kids in the area but there were several tube exits and ways for the kids to go so it was hard to follow the kids to keep up with them.  One thing that saved us was Vika was wearing an orange shirt that was somewhat easy to find every now and then.  After the tubes/slides we road the wagon to the pumpkin patch. They had a flower and veggie garden, pumpkins - orange and white, and all kinds of gourds.  The girls didn't quite understand picking a pumpkin even though I explained it to them.

Vika "picked" a little pumpkin with a lot of help and that is the one we bought and took home. I tried to get them to lay in the patch so I could take their picture but they wouldnt....oh well.

As Vika was walking in the patch she came across a puddle with her cane so of course she stuck her foot in it with her shoe on and everything. She has done that once in the kiddie pool at home so she got to walk around with a wet foot....it kinda made her mad at first but you gotta experience that before you understand why mama says be careful.
the wagon to the pumpkin patch was pulled by a tractor and you could ride it as much as you wanted. We rode it 2 times that day once round trip and one time where we walked back from the field.  The girls got to feel sunflowers, black eyed susans, and cabbages.
Lena's favorite thing to eat is cabbage rolls so she was excited to touch one that was growing!
One of the girls favorite things to do was to play on the hay in the hay-barn....they had a spiral staircase down into the hay with big black tubes coming out to crawl through....


They spend over half an hour on this...Papa liked that he could see the pumpkin cannon when it shot the pumpkins. We rode the train after that and fun was had by all! The last thing we did was play in the sand bus...What is that? Well check it out. Lena loved the sand and Vika had fun throwing the toys out of the window. I had fun throwing them back in at her!


All in all it was a busy day. WE spent well over 5 hours there and the kids seemed to have a lot of fun.  If it werent so expensive we would probably go back ...they did have season's passes for a little bit more money.




Saturday, September 28, 2013

The freedom to say "NO!" as much as you want....


So when Vika first came home she was physically able to do things that a 7 year old could do....dress herself, eat with utensils, go up and down stairs but she was a 15 month old emotionally.
This blurb i found in an article totally describes where she was at...

New this month: Pay attention to meeeee!

Whirlwind. It's a word that aptly describes a typical 15-month-old, and life with a toddler this age is never dull. His attention is equally divided between his toys and you. Children thrive on their parents' attention, and if you happen to leave the area where he's playing, he'll come looking for you within a few minutes because he wants to know that you're paying attention to him. "See! See!" is probably a common refrain in your house as your child tries to balance his drive to be more independent with his need to know he can depend on you.

Until now, your toddler has been preoccupied with checking out his surroundings and the objects in his world. Now he's just as curious about the effects of his behavior on other people, and his connection with you is vital to his confidence. During this period of social exploration you may see him trying to get your attention anyway he can. He'll shout, imitate gestures he sees you and other adults making, pinch, poke, shove, whine, and cry, all in an attempt to see how you react, and what it takes for him to get what he wants. He will quickly realize that various behaviors get different results from the adults who surround him. He may learn that he gets what he wants faster if he laughs instead of whines. Or that whining will get him what he wants from his grandfather, but not from his mom or dad. This experimentation is all part of socialization, and if you are consistent with enforcing limits, he'll soon learn which behaviors are acceptable and which aren't.
She was also throwing tantrums ALL the time. Well after 6 MONTHS home she has moved onto the TWO's but i want to call them the wonderful 2's. Why? Because she is growing and developing!!! 





I found this little blurb online about where she is now....It made me laugh that the other mother who was asking about the repeated no's was also named Amanda.

My two-year-old daughter overly uses the word "no" like most toddlers her age, I assume. Are there any real strategies to getting her not to use the word so frequently?
From: Amanda, Dracut


Hi Amanda,
"No" is one of the easiest words to learn, so that's one reason it comes so early. It's also a word that gets lots of reaction from adults, which is another reason why it's a word that gets repeated....and repeated....and repeated. So the first way to ratchet down how much she says no is to monitor your reaction to it: if you start off responding calmly and then work yourself up, that's actually very exciting to a toddler. You're unwittingly providing reinforcement.
Here are a few ways to think about her "No."
"No" is also a sign of healthy development. She's becoming independent , recognizing that she is not an extension of you, and exerting her will. As much as it's a pain in the neck to deal with, you certainly want this to happen!
Much of the time when a toddler says no, especially in the beginning, she doesn't mean "no"as a word of defiance, she's just vocalizing. But because we react to it as if she really means what we take it to mean, she sees it as a way to get attention and control. She's at a stage of development where she's trying to learn how and when and why and where she has control over her environment, and she's learning about cause and effect. There's lots going on! So, for instance, sometimes when she repeats no!, she's experimenting with cause and effect: If say "NO," look what mom does! If I say "NO!" again, does she do the same thing again? What about this time?
When you can see that her no is not so much defiance (you can tell by how much emotion there is behind it) as exploratory ("Do I really have to do this? Does mom really mean it?), try to interpret what else it could mean: "Oh, you're telling me you want to play with this doll."

So in a nutshell, Vika is growing she is exerting her will and I am amazed at her progress!!! in six months she has grown, and it also means she is going forward from her 15 months she should now be at 21 months....so she is right on track!!! She has learned to suck from a straw and she is starting to use more words and sentences....she sings in the car when she thinks no one is listening. She is also starting to lose teeth!!! When she firs tcame home she was wearing size 4/5 and they were too big on her. She now wears a 6x! WE love Vika so much and THANK GOD that he picked her for us everyday!!!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Love came in on little cat feet.....

Some of you might have heard the Carl Sandburg poem named Fog

Fog

The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Vote for Tommy

Hello. Long time no talk...I have a PLEA to make to you today!! this is Tommy. He is not an orphan and in order to help him you DON'T have to give money. He is hoping to win a smart brailler from Wonderbaby.org  The smart brailler is REALLY cool as it talks what you type and you can read it on the screen and it makes what you type into a word document. Then you insert a FLASH drive into it and you have what you typed. So like an IPAD for blind kiddos. His family is in the running for a FREE one valued at $3000.00. ALL you have to do to help is go here and VOTE for the Kovaks family....they are in second place currently can we get them to first??
Thanks for helping. You can VOTE every 24 hours until the 8th of Sptember.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Another GREAT Lady went home to Jesus today

My favorite great aunt died today....the only one left. She was a rebel sweet lady and I loved her so much. I will miss her but I know she is home with Jesus and she is cooking up some fudge in his kitchen waiting on the rest of us to show up....we miss you Vera Lee!!



Monday, August 12, 2013

Scrapbook Sunday



These are just some snippets of what we have been up to lately.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

So we are in need of a new home study!!

yeah that is right we are thinking of starting the process again....but not in ukraine this time.  NO we are thinking of a place with elephants, a huge spice trade and one of the 8 wonders of the world.   Normally your homestudy is good for a certain amount of time. Which is about 18 months normally and ours is. Unfortunately, Missouri has a law that requires you get a whole new homestudy per international adoption so if we want to adopt again we get to have another homestudy....yeah!! so here we go again!!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Today it's a candle....

Today we as a family of Christians, Adoptive parents, and people that just plain care for kids....are lighting a candle for one sweet orphan that died. He was finally released from his living hell....the one that murdered him. This is happening every day to orphans all over the world. Children deemed unworthy by their societies. His name that we knew him as was Hansen. That wasn't even his real name. He never knew a mother's love. THIS. HAS. To. STOP. If you cant adopt will you think about really supporting those that do...will you join with me and change your profile picture today on FB to be a candle for Hansen. And for all the orphans that need mommas? WE can help change it today!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

We went to the yake...

Yes we did! The girls both loved it!! each of them got to drive the boat and we all swam in the lake and they loved the wind in their faces!! It was great!




Just thought you guys would like to see some photos of them since I haven't published them on the boat in a while.

Tools of the trade

This blog post is for all you mothers out there wracking your brain at what to do about this and that....When we first got Vika she would hit herself almost nonstop....ALL. THE.TIME. Why? well she wanted attention or she was anxious and she needed release....Slowly those behaviors are dwindling but she has started to scream a horrible dying child growl scream in its place and it happens...often. WE tried time outs to alleviate the scream...we tried time outs, time ins, we tried talking about them, telling her no when she actually did it, She knows she is doing something she isn't supposed to but still she screamed.  It was worse in the car and we tried screaming with her, having screaming contests, cheering every time she did it...WE TRIED everything.....well not everything...so I thought I would share what has finally worked for us.
Yep thats right a weed sprayer.  Wait before you freak out we put water in it and have been using it at home to spray the cats that like to yell on the stairs....well we have found that if you squirt her while she is screaming she instantly stops and sometimes she giggles and SOMETIMES she talks and says fooey dooey or OK instead of her growling scream.....Maybe this will lead her to be more VERBAL in an appropriate way....I'm praying it will....AMEN to that!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

braille challenge article!!

Remember I told you guys about the braille challenge? Well,  I thought you might like to read the article in the LA times about the competition and watch the videos. You can link to the article HERE.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The National Braille Challenge

I would like to congratulate the winners of the 2013 regional braille challenge competition. Today they are being flown from all across our nation to Los Angeles to compete in the National Braille Challenge.
This is a list of the finalists from this year.

APPRENTICE

  • Hailey Baskeyfield - OK, Oklahoma Center for the Education of Children
  • Audrey Bethay - KS, Kansas State School for the Blind
  • Sujan Dhakal - MD, Maryland School for the Blind
  • Marin Gundlach - WI, Wisconsin Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired
  • Alexander Holstein - WV, West Virginia Regional Braille Challenge
  • Jennifer Kasunick - OH
  • Anthony Moncman - PA
  • Ava  Pacheco - PA
  • Ian Receveur - IN, Indiana School for the Blind
  • Julia Stockburger - MD, Maryland School for the Blind
  • Richard Tienter - MO, Missouri School for the Blind
  • Katelynn Zampella - OK, Oklahoma School for the Blind
  • Madison Wardell - FL
  • Diya Chakraborty - AR, Arkansas School for the Blind & Visually Impaired

FRESHMAN

  • Christopher Abel - GA, Georgia Academy for the Blind & The Atlanta Braille Volunteers
  • Samantha Bomberger - NE, Nebraska Center for the Education of Children
  • Kaleigh Brendle - NY, East Meadow School District
  • Paige Drury - CT, The Carroll Center for the Blind
  • Geneva Harris - GA, Georgia Academy for the Blind & The Atlanta Braille Volunteers
  • Kendra Holloway - GA, Georgia Academy for the Blind & The Atlanta Braille Volunteers
  • Yael Korc - TX, Texas Education Service Center, Region 13
  • Julia LaGrand - MI
  • Ton Pham - FL, Florida Instructional Materials Center for the Visually Impaired
  • Jacob Reynolds - FL, FIMC-VI Lions Eye Institute
  • Deyannira Villa Cazares - CO, Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind
  • Ella Yu - BC, CanadaThe Provincial Resource Centre for the Visually Impaired

SOPHOMORE

  • Jalen Ballard - IN, Indiana School for the Blind & Visually Impaired
  • Mitchell Bridwell - IN, Indiana School for the Blind & Visually Impaired
  • Kelly Cusack - NY, East Meadows School District
  • Nikhil Dadlani - No. CA, California School for the Blind & Visually Impaired
  • Marisa D'Amore - FL, FIMC-VI Lions Eye Institute
  • Christine Lacsina - So. CA, Braille Institute, Orange County 
  • Annette Lamas - FL, Edgewood Administration Center
  • Griffin Miller - MI
  • Julia Miller - IN, Indiana School for the Blind & Visually Impaired
  • Ahbee Orton - AL, Tennessee School for the blind
  • Mason Tilley - KY, American Printing House for the Blind
  • Marie Villaneda - IN, Indiana School for the Blind & Visually Impaired.
  • Richelle Zampella - OK, Oklahoma School for the Blind

JR. VARSITY

  • Keisha Anderson - BC, Canada
  • Chloe Ashford - LA, Louisiana School for the Blind
  • Cricket Bidleman - So. CA, Braille Institute, Orange County 
  • Harley Fetterman - TX, Texas Education Service Center, Region 13
  • Luther Fuller - KS, Kansas State School for the Blind
  • Kaitlyn Hall - IL, Missouri School for the Blind
  • Ricardo Herrera - So. CA, Braille Institute, Orange County 
  • Merlyn Hileman - TX, Texas Education Service Center, Region 13
  • Natalia Ratcliffe - So. CA, Braille Institute, Orange County 
  • Lauren Thomson - IA, Iowa Braille School and the Iowa Library for the Blind
  • Alyssa Townsend - WI, Wisconsin Center for the Blind
  • Michelle Yongue - FL, FIMC-VI Lions Eye Institute

VARSITY

  • Janie Brunson - No. CA, California School for the Blind
  • Aidee Campa - So. CA, Braille Institute, Orange County 
  • Annabelle Costanzo - IA, Iowa Braille School and the Iowa Library for the Blind
  • Juna Gjata - MA, The Carroll Center for the Blind
  • Alyssa Henson - MO, Missouri School for the Blind
  • Rhianna Martin - BC, Canada
  • Marisa Parker - MA, The Carroll Center for the Blind
  • Michael Rouillard - CT, The Carroll Center for the Blind
  • Alexa Schwichow - IL
  • Harrison Tu - So. CA, Braille Institute, Orange County 
  • Andrew Zhang - NY, East Meadow School District
  • Tiffany Zhao - So. CA, Braille Institute, Orange County 
  • Edgar Lozano - TX, Texas Education Service Region 13 
Since my children are attending a blind school I am going to work really hard to get Lena reading braille so that she can compete in the next braille challenge. My prayers go out to Luther and Audrey who are from our school. Praying that you guys do well this year in competition!!

If you would like to read more about the braille challege please feel free to click HERE.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Braille Bibles International

WE live very near to a christian organization that helps supply anyone who wants one a braille bible......you can find all about it HERE.  A dear friend of mine who is going to get Aiden and Nash ordered a braille bible for them ....its a beginners bible. But it is in Braille 2 so a mama can read to her littles or so littles that are just learning to read braille 2 can read to a sibling.  So we contacted them and were able to get 2 sets (10 volumes) one set will go to a friend and one set we will keep for ourselves. This version has pictures and braille so we are super excited.  Are you blind or do you read to a blind preschooler or do you have a beginner reader? Check them out and request one for yourself.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Wonderbaby.org

Have you ever been to this website? If you are a parent of a visually impaired child or one with Autism this site is for you. If you have kids that like fun toys this site is for you. They have all kinds of articles and they are having a contest right now to get to be a family that tries out the New perkins Smart Brailler which I am so wanting to get my hands on..Go check it out here.
It has all sorts of neat features like being able to read what the child has written and hearing the word too. Great for proofreading.  And good for the parent that doesn't read braille like my husband for instance. it also has a usb port to hook to a printer or flash drive to print. Im sure there are lots of other features that are cool too!

Monday, May 20, 2013

On days like today I am feeling the pull....

To throw it all away....sell everything on the courthouse steps and just move....to Ukraine  I think Chet feels it too. I am ready to go. The Lord has been whispering these thoughts into my heart. With the denial of a visa to bring our big boy home to the US even more so I think...I'll just move to Ukraine then.... I'll just be the change. But its not time yet...as I order a homeschool curriculum for my youngest and as we negotiate the girls education...I think I could do that....As I learn and fight to preserve the bilingual abilities of our children...I think I could speak that.....as we yearn to fit into a church that doesn't see things like we do because we have seen the unspeakable things....I think....I could change that.  As new growth pops from the ground around me I think...It's time for us to grow....There is a breeze of change in the air. I don't know when or how but its there and God will make a way I'm sure.

Friday, May 17, 2013

For all the moms....

Young and Old....New and old-timers....with children that are living and children that have passed. Those with children in their arms or with arms waiting for children, this song really captures what it means to be a mom. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

My first Mother's day and ....

My Birthday!! To celebrate Chet said we could go camping.!!! The girls and I had a great time. A fun time was had by all. Will update more later when I find the time again. 


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

How we went for 1 Child and ended up with 2

I had a wonderful comment from Sue the other day. She wanted to know how we went from going to get Viktoria and ended up with Lena too. Well really Sue all along it was Lena that caught my eye?? What?? How is that possible? Well its a long story so sit back and I will tell you.

Two Novembers ago, I was talking to a missionary that goes to Krivoy rog. I had read her blog and I had seen a video of Victoria on the site and in the background there was a little girl who was blond....she appeared to be super smart and she was blind. I asked my friend Amanda that was adopting a little boy from the same orphanage...his name was Andrey. They were very close to travelling to go get him.  Amanda told me  they called her big Lena and that was because another girl in the video that was blind and deaf was alos named Lena and they called her little Lena   Amanda also told me that she thought Lena was super smart and would be no trouble to adopt.  Well I could see myself being Lena's mom but not Vika's....Vika had too many unknowns. Could she talk, would she stop hitting herself, could she read, was she really potty trained....etc.  Shortly after that conversation, A priest in Ukraine opened up an orphanage and came to collect kids from all the orphanages for his house.  Word got out that Lena....my Lena as I thought of her by then was going to be taken. Oh how I prayed that she wouldn't be. And God answered my prayers....kinda...She got really sick and had to go to the hospital so the priest took other kids instead. One of them was my friend Amanda's Andrey.  Oh how awful. And I more than anyone knew some of her pain because we thought the priest was taking her too.  But he didn't.

At the time I didn't even know if it was possible to adopt her.  And I didn't think Vika was meant to be my kid.  I did think Lena was though. But shortly after that through Amanda some people contacted me and asked if they paid the commitment fee would I think about adopting Vika. So I asked Chet about it. It was a bad time ....the president was cutting funding to the homeless population and that meant Chet would probably lose his job. But I wouldn't let it go I told him if God wants us to do this he will raise the funds for us to do it. And basically I made him say yes. I wanted a child so badly and he just had to agree. So he did begrudgingly agree to go for Vika. But there was Lena in the back of my mind.

It took 3 people's donations to complete the commitment fee. But if that is what God wants you to do then the money will come.  I am so grateful for those 3 women today. And I am grateful for the 4th woman who wanted to know why I felt Vika was our child. After contacting me on the phone, she went on to call those other ladies and tell them I didn't want Vika that I had no good reason for wanting to adopt her....which caused all of them to withold their checks till I could prove I wanted her. But by then the mama bear in me fought for Vika ....my child. The one whom God wanted to bless me with.  And so began the fight to fundraise.....

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

I'm thinking of pulling an Unroe...

I was in the Reece's rainbow group on facebook one day when I saw a lady say this phrase..."I'm thinking of pulling an Unroe...." What did that mean? Well I'll tell you. She was referring to Amanda Unroe and her husband Brent who went and adopted 5 from Bulgaria. That's right 5 UNRELATED kids the last time they adopted....One of which was less than 17lbs at 5 1/2 years of age. They love the impossible kids. The ones that shouldn't have had to live in their circumstances, the ones that are badly abused and mistreated and they love them back to life and function. You can see the before and after pictures of those kiddos HERE. And if you scroll down you can see the three new ones they are going back to adopt. If you felt led by God to do so please consider donating as they are about ready to travel and are still VERY short on Funds....Also another friend is having a fundraiser that has IPAD mini's in it to win. You can check that out at http://www.allarepreciousinhissight.com/. Who doesn't want to help some orphans and possibly win an IPAD mini?? PLEASE go and check it out!! thanks!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

About school.....a new plan

Our school got a different plan set up for the girls at the last minute.....They are going to Kansas State school for the blind.....for the last month of school and the summer program. I am really happy about it too. I am so excited that I am tempted to buy a shack to live at so they can go there forever and I am not kidding.   This is the perfect opportunity for them to catch up and have the support every day to do it in the right way!! Lena will be so excited when she realizes it is every day and there are no more naps!! They will be evaluating them and writing their IEP's. I am so excited for this opportunity for the girls....

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

All your questions answered...

It always irked me when people's blog posts dwindled after their adoption. I wanted to know how they were doing...I wanted to see pictures of before and after.   I wondered how they were fairing.  WEll now I know why they didnt post. There are so many other things more important to do than post on the blog, laundry, dishes, sleep would be nice too.  The girls are fairing well. The language barrier sucks. I am tired of everyone's questions. Yes they are ours. Yes they are sisters. NO they are not twins. NO they were not biologically related. Yes they were born that way. Yes they are both blind. No I don't know what they are saying. And NO I am not a blessing. I am surviving that is all. I am a woman that couldn't have my own kids or foster kids apparently....These are my kids....yes they are mine cause they are blind. But they are also mine cause God picked them out for me...

Both girls have problems we are adjusting to. One is not smarter than the other one. We love them both the same. Vika wasn't well treated and you can tell that in her behaviors....Helena was spoiled rotten and you can tell that in her behaviors....Adoption is no picnic you have good times and bad times but had we not chosen to take either of the kids home with us then they were domes for life in an insane asylum filled with moaning, groaning adults at 8. So no we couldn't just leave them there.

About their names...
The way Lena's name is Helena pronounces Hu lay nuh. Her real name was spelled Oleona and had we been able to get our facilitator to tell us that we would have spelled it that way. She pronounced it Lay-o-nuh. So we tried to keep it as closed as possible. Vika can be Said Vick-uh or Vee-ka we say both. Her full name is Viktoria to account for the shortened version.

The girls are starting to school tomorrow. Hopefully my sanity will return but I doubt it. Any other questions just ask.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Just wanted to mention....

 really wanted to leave the last post up awhile but God is telling me to mention to you another family that is fundraising right now.... Jon and Angela are working towards adopting Jack and Jensen....you can read about them on their blog HERE.  Jon and Angela are having a Major giveaway with some really cool prizes like an Ipad and a Nexus 7 tablet. Please go check out the fundraiser all it takes is 10 dollars to be entered for a chance at one of the prizes.



Many years ago, at different times and in different cities, two incredibly special baby boys were born into the world. Both were precious and beautiful children from the moment they came into being and the world is, without a doubt, better for having them in it. “Jensen” was born first. He is said to be a quiet yet friendly child who is calm and loves people, animals, nature and crafts. While he lives with Cerebral Palsy, his condition does not define him. There is so much more to this amazing young man and his waiting family longs to bring him opportunities that he cannot get without a family. It has been relayed to his waiting family that Jensen is worried that a family will never come for him and he is afraid of reaching his next birthday without a family (which would mean that he would forever lose his chance at being adopted). While his family does not know when he will be told that they are coming for him, they pray his heart can be shielded from this stress and pain during this unnerving time. Born next was precious “Jack”. This little angel was born with an incredibly rare genetic condition called Xeroderma Pigmentosum (XP) and, unfortunately, with the demands of this life-threatening illness, his needs are exceptionally difficult to manage in his country of origin. When this baby boy came into alternative care, it quickly became clear that, in an orphanage setting, it would be an uphill battle to provide him with what he needs to avoid the many dangers that are faced by children living with XP- most importantly cancer and a very premature death. While this boy has been loved by orphanage staff and missions teams who have visited him, he has waited for just under a decade for someone to claim him as their son and provide him with what all children need and deserve- love, family, stability, dedication, proper medical care and hope. While he does not yet know about his waiting family either, he should be getting to meet them soon as there are attempts being made to expedite the adoption process as much as possible because of his extreme medical needs. Jack is a spunky little fighter and his best chance at survival is coming home to his loving family.
The family that has stepped forward for both wonderful boys has said “Yes! We will absolutely do everything in our power to bring our sons-to-be home as quickly as possible and we will move heaven and earth to provide them with everything they need and deserve.” This family does not wish to be thought of as heroic or saintly though. While they realize that these children will now be given lives that they could not get in an orphanage or foster facility setting, they truly feel as if they are the blessed ones in this situation. They will now get to love on these sweet, compassionate and amazing young boys who both have very special spirits and very special places in the hearts of their family-members-to-be. No matter what battles they may face with the care of their new sons, this family knows that they will do all that is necessary for their care and well-being and that they will enjoy and make the most of however long it is that they have together. While Jack’s condition is life-threatening and comes, most typically, with a significantly reduced life span (especially in the case of those living untreated for prolonged periods of time as has Jack), the hope is that once this little guy gets home to his new country, new state, new family and new medical team, his health will be able to be properly assessed by professionals with expertise in his rare condition and that he will be put on a path that will allow him a long, healthy and happy life. Surely that is what we all hope for this child. While his condition cannot be cured, it can be managed better here in the states than it can be in an orphanage setting in his country of origin. While the waiting family originally committed to Jack alone, they knew that they wanted to welcome Jensen into the family as well as soon as they learned of him and they could not allow this sweet young man to age out never knowing the love and security of a family. People say that there are no guarantees in life but this family guarantees that they will love their new children to no end and that they will make sure they have what they need to be put in the best position possible.
While this family can provide for all of Jack’s and Jensen’s needs once they get home, they could very much use assistance in getting to the point where the boys actually can come home. Please search your heart and determine whether or not you can help them with the financial aspect of the adoption process. You will enjoy getting to know this family virtually and you will surely be pleased by reading more about their precious sons-and brothers-to-be. Hopefully you will agree to step alongside not only these beautiful young boys, but also their soon-to-be-dad (a wonderfully devoted husband, father and active duty military member), mom (a fiercely dedicated wife and mother as well as a skilled secondary school teacher), big brothers and baby sister (all of whom are thrilled to be welcoming new siblings into the family). Whether you keep this family and, most importantly, these children in your thoughts and prayers or you sow into the family’s adoption fund, you will be an immensely positive force in all of their lives. You will forever have this family’s heart and gratitude for helping them along in the adoption process and for caring about their new children. Blessings, peace and love to all of you!

This is the link to their FSP.   Please donate a little something to their account.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Attachment and Bonding


Bonding and Attachment and stuff
Now that we are home I wanted to mention a few things...

Attachment and bonding are a huge concern in adoption--especially with older children.  It's hard to believe that Vika and Lena are considered  "older" children but they are.  The first two years of development are crucial.  After that time, adoptions can encounter some additional challenges.

I have no idea how this change is going to affect them.  As far as I know and can tell, they have been well cared for. they have not suffered the neglect and/or abuse that a lot of kids in Eastern Europe have.  Based on what I saw, it seems that she has staff that care for them and interacted with them.  Even with those "advantages," they have not experienced a family or a mother. They know what that looks like or what her role in a family is.

They are going to have to learn what it is to be in a family.  They need to learn that their wants and needs will be provided for by their parents.  They have had multiple caregivers in their short lives.  They probably change with the shift, with vacations, with new employees, with transfers.  They have learned that they can get her needs met by any number of adults or by their own means.  Neither of these theories are healthy. They will have to learn that not all adults are equal in their lives.  They need to learn to trust their parents to meet their physical, emotional, medical, social, and spiritual needs.

In short, we need to bond.  We need time to learn to be a family together.  After all, I will be learning what it means right along with her.

There are a lot of people that will tell you that you need to "cocoon" your family for a long time upon returning to the US.  Like months!  In all honesty, I can't imagine doing that completely.  First, I will have to go back to work at the beginning of April so that just isn't possible.  Secondly, I think I'm going to really need all of you when I get back!

At this point, I am planning to do a modified version of cocooning and we'll see how it goes.  Here are some general guidelines that I'm planning to follow after researching and talking to other APs.  (I reserve the right to change the rules at any time depending on the girls' adjustment.)

*Please call, text, message, facebook us.  Ask how we are doing.  Invite us to play or eat.  I may say no depending on their mood or ours.  Don't be offended.  It will mean the world that you asked.

*Bring your children over to play.  They will be more comfortable here than at your house.  It will be less overwhelming for them.  I want them around other children.  That's what they're used to!  (And they need to learn some English.)

*Speak to them in English.

*Don't be surprised if we don't take you up on your offers to spend the night right away.  For a while, if they can't go, we won't be going.  I don't know how often we'll be at church or anything in the beginning.  Her adjustment is paramount.

*Please don't pick them up, feed them or ask to hug them. We know that sounds harsh but it's important.  we've never been a huge fan of forcing kids to hug people.  We think it unintentionally erodes important personal boundaries.  If they need to be picked up and comforted, we will do that.  If they choose to hug you, that's different.  It's very possible that they will have food issues related to orphanage life.  Please do get down on the floor and talk to them and play with them.  If they need something, please direct them to us so they learn that their parents meets their needs.

I know that some of you probably think I've completely lost my mind and I'm turning into one of those parents.  I'm really not.  If you want some research and blogs, I can point you in the right direction.  These things might seem either little to you or very extreme but I assure you, they are important.  They have undergone a HUGE life change and we want it to be as healthy and smooth for them as possible.

Please, if you have questions, leave me a comment or send me a message.  I hope I'm explaining myself well but I'd love to clarify things if I'm not.  Also, fellow adoptive parents, let me know what things I'm missing on my list!

Oh, and please don't think this means you can't welcome us back to the US.   Just know that we will be the only ones holding and hugging them.  You will all just have to settle for hugging us instead.  Also we wanted to mention that Vika has some severe delays...she is just perfect and we love her but we wanted you to be aware of some of her issues ahead of time.  When she gets mad she had not been taught to use her words and instead, tries to hit herself. This can be scary to see if you aren't expecting it. We are starting to restrain her from hitting herself and others but she is just now learning that it is not ok.  Also since she has never been encouraged to think or speak for herself she doesn't always talk. And she still plays with "baby" toys. While she is 7 years old she is really at a varying degree between 15 months to 5 years old.
she has already learned so much. WE appreciate your understanding if she starts to scream and hit her self and scream bloody murder she is ok we are working with her to help her understand` that it is ok to talk it out.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Snowy Kiev











So we are getting record snows here in Kiev. I was ready to get home. I miss Abby and Daylea and all the other 5th graders at school and I just wanted to sleep in my own bed. But all you spring breakers in the states prevented that and so we wont be able to fly out until Tuesday. But in the mean time Kiev is receiving record snowfalls and now we are wondering if we will fly out at all. Ukraine's prime minister  Nikolay Azarov has declared a state of Emergency.  But we know all about that in Missouri don't we??