Frozen Cats, Injuries, and Parenting Wins

I’m sitting here at the table in a super quiet moment.  Ooooh I love it.  I’m debating getting up and making a cup o’ coffee, but I’m too afraid to disturb the moment. So, I’ll probably just stay put.

Vladik is sitting at the table with me drawing a picture for his special class he takes at MTU once a week.  He stays home from school on Wednesdays so he can go to that class.  Also, he does well with a day off in the middle of the week to spend time with mom and dad.  He really enjoys going out to the property with Jed and seeing all the work the guys are doing.  Vlad has an engineering mind and loves all things electrical  and tools and stuff like that. -Basically everything I hate.  Hehe. He’s constantly drawing pictures of the house for Sasha, our friend and builder.  Sasha is so kind, making a big deal over each and every drawing, discussing the details with Vladik.  I love it.

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Seth is at his village preschool/kindergarten and the other 3 are at school.  Seth only goes to his school for 3-4 hours per day and has finally gotten into the groove.  PTL!  I never thought it would happen.  He has a couple little friends there and that has made all the difference.  He wrestles with them every day and comes home with small injuries most days.  I guess their teacher is fine with it?  Ha! Anyway, he has a good time and is learning, so we are winning there, for sure.

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Waiting for the bus after school

Wanna hear something gross?  Of course you do! When we take out the trash we have to walk down a little path/alley behind our apartment, around behind a kindergarten, and then to some dumpsters behind a big apartment building.  It’s all paths and not really a road, so it is never cleared of snow or ice.  It can actually be a bit treacherous! Anyway, a couple weeks ago I noticed a cat had died and was frozen, mid-stride, right on the side of the path.  EEEEEK!  Disgusting.  It’s mouth and eyes were frozen open and it was just horrible to look at.  Poor kitty. It’s still there.  IT’S STILL THERE.  Still frozen, still horrible looking, STILL THERE.  I keep wondering who will take care of it???? If you’re going to suggest that I do it because I’m so concerned…you can just shut your mouth.  There is no way on God’s green earth I’m taking responsibility for that dead cat.  Nasty.  Anyway, I assume everyone is just ignoring it because everything is still frozen around here and everyone hopes someone else will do it.  But sooner or later everything will thaw. Then what?  Ugh.  Now I just avert my eyes every time I have to pass by it because it’s haunting me.  Make it stop!!!

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Our ice skating rink/street

Last week I had this strange infection in my thumb that became a big ordeal.  The big ordeal included: me googling “my thumb is going to explode”, attempting to treat it myself with Jed and a sterilized needle (yes, I know, not smart….but we were desperate), heading to the hospital and being examined by a surgeon in a dimly-lit, flickery-lightbulb hallway, giving a urine sample in a bathroom with OPEN GLASS BOTTLES (aka specimen jars) ON A WOODEN TABLE, NO TOILET SEAT, NO TOILET PAPER, NO SOAP.  Seriously. Slightly high risk for specimen contamination, dontchathink?  My ordeal included a $0.75 X-Ray, thumb numbing and lancing, blood samples taken using a pipet and a rubber tube, and then some sort of loud electromagnetic treatment with this:

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I don’t even know what to say…

All that said, they took very good care of me and the surgeon was competent and extremely kind.  I do have to say though, as an RN who worked in the hospital setting for 13+ years, it was all very Twilight Zone/Civil War tent medicine’ish.  The lead up to the actual procedure was so strange and foreign and old-school that I half expected to be handed a bullet to bite down on as my thumb was cut open. But alas, it was all done with sterile procedure and ease.  I guess you can’t always judge a book by it’s dimly-lit cover. 😉

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You have to buy booties from the pharmacy before going into the hospital

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Seriozha (aka Kenny) saved my life by helping me navigate the hospital experience 🙂

We’ve recently had some parenting wins that I think you should all know about. Aren’t we parents all too hard on ourselves?  I know I am. Why do we do this to ourselves? Let’s take a moment to reflect on the things that, despite our best efforts to screw everything up, seem to be going right. Here we go:

  1. Every time we have our friend Rosa over to play games we listen to a finely-tuned Pandora station called “Phil Collins Radio”. I’ve been thumbing that station up and down  for at least 4 years, so you know it’s full of gems.  Or, if Jed will allow it, Rosa and I will opt for “Bryan Adams Radio”.  This tradition started back when we lived in the US and would play games with our most special Tom and Emma.  Games just call for music everyone can sing along to, and these two stations are exceptional, in my humble opinion.  Well, lately Addy and Ezra have been joining us in our game play and they can now sing along to at least the chorus of several good songs.  The other night we were listening to music while washing the dishes and Ezra requested “Total Eclipse of the Heart”.  Then the next night Addy requested “Take My Breath Away”.  I know we make mistakes every day, but requests of high caliber, such as those, give me hope. #parentingwin
  2. The other day I asked Vladik to go put his notebook in his backpack for school.  He proceeded to toss the notebook in his bag and then declare “Boom shaka laka!” Be still my heart. #parentingwin
  3. Ezra just completed his very first chapter book without pictures.  He started it.  He read it every night.  He asked to stay up late to “finish one more chapter”. He talked about it at dinner. He read it until the very end.  I thought this day would never come. #parentingwin
  4. There is a little boy in Hava’s class that doesn’t really have any friends.  The other kids don’t like him and often aren’t kind to him. Hava decided that was wrong.  She sincerely likes him and decided to appoint herself as his protector. Every day she reports to me on the kindness level of others and what she did to be a friend to him.  #parentingwin

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Welp, I’m off to take Vladik to class and fetch Seth from Kinder…while averting my eyes from frozen cat.  #jesustakethewheel  Happy Wednesday!

 

 

Welcoming a New Year!

Happy New Year! Yeah, I know I’m late to the New Years party, but time to write is scarce these days. Better late than never, am I right?


2016 was a DOOZY. Surgeries and goodbyes and re-immigration and last-minute-border-runs and house buying and destroying and rebuilding and a new school and new friends and new boys and wow. Good job, 2016, you definitely gave us a run for our money.

Upward and onward!  Welcome, 2017!

I’m one of those people who loves the fresh start of a new year.  I’m not super disciplined. I’m not terribly organized. BUT, I love the chance to start again.  I like making New Years Resolutions.  I know that I’ll fail at some (or most) of them, but why not give them a go?  At least I’ll do well for part of the year…and that’s better than not doing well at all…right?  And sometimes the resolutions stick, and then our whole family is better for it.


For me it’s not so much about making a set list of resolutions, as much as it is reprioritizing and rebalancing the craziness that is our overseas life. It feels like there is so much of our lives that is out of our control in every way: residency documents, government officials, new laws, cultural differences, blah blah blah.  I think it’s good to find a balance and try to do better with the things in our life that we DO have control over: how we spend our time, how we spend our money, how we raise our children….and on and on. I love the new year for a fresh look at those things.

This year I have two personal goals that I really want to focus on: Improving my Ukrainian language (spoken and written) and faithfully spending time in God’s Word.

I have other goals involving mothering and being a wife, but I won’t go into those at the moment.


Ukrainian Language.

Oh Ukrainian language, why do you haunt me so?  Why you gotta be so dang hard?  Why you gotta have so many endings and conjugations?  Oh Zhytomyr, why you gotta be so linguistically confused? Why can’t everyone in this city speak the same language?  WHY????

Those are the questions I ask myself approximately 473 times per day. You have no idea how often I yell out in anger: “Why can’t we live in some place like France where all the people SPEAK FRENCH?????”  Ha!  This post makes me sound like I have anger issues…and when it comes to language learning, maybe I do. Don’t judge.

You see, we live in a region of the country that is linguistically “in-between”.  You can travel to Eastern Ukraine  or Southern Ukraine and find many people speaking Russian.  You can travel to Western Ukraine and find many people speaking Ukrainian.  You travel to our region (the middle’ish’) and get a mix of it all (I can’t vouch for that website, I just linked to the map as a visual).  Well, no matter where you go in Ukraine you will find a mix, honestly, it’s just not very cut and dry anywhere.  On any given day I will hear conversations in full-on Russian, then full-on Ukrainian, then, most of the time, in full-on Surzhyk.  Surzhyk is the name of the mix of Russian and Ukrainian together. It would be extremely rare to hear someone speaking clean Ukrainian in our city.  Most people who speak Ukrainian around these parts actually speak a form of Surzhyk. So, in all actuality, we need to learn two languages, and then learn to mix them. Shoot me now.

We study Ukrainian instead of Russian because our kids go to school and school is taught in Ukrainian.  Our team mostly all speak Russian to each other, so that stinks, but as a family we all have to be learning the same language.  We just have to. After some hit and miss lessons over the past couple of years I have decided to really dig in to language studies with my whole self. I have found the most amazing teacher that I love love love.  I love her as a person and as a teacher.  She ‘gets’ me and my learning style.  She thinks outside the box and really challenges me.  I ADORE our lessons together.  Thank you Jesus for the gift of my teacher!  A good language teacher is the best thing ever.  My language has exploded since we started our lessons and I’m just so happy. I go to lessons twice a week and then am committed to study for at least one hour 5 days per week. It should be more than that, but I also go to Romaniv and have five kids and we’re building a house and yeah, let’s not shoot too high.  I so desperately want to be able to share my heart with people.  I want to be known, and language hinders that so much.  Language is everything and when you don’t have it…well your quality of life really suffers. Wish me luck!


Bible Reading.

Let’s be honest: I have always stunk at reading my Bible.  I know the Bible.  I know so much about it.  I was raised in a Christian home and went to Christian school. I know all the stories, I know tons of verses, I know who wrote which book and all that jazz.  I’m well versed in the Bible. (did you catch that one? hehe) BUT, as an adult I have never gone for more than a month or two at a time of faithfully reading my Bible.  It has been hit and miss for years. I never know what to read. The Bible is so big! There are lots of boring parts and lots of parts that I’ve read lots of times so my eyes just kind of glaze over.  I’m always unsure so I usually end up in James because I like him the best. He’s a straight shooter.  🙂

Enter, The Daily Audio Bible!  Yeehaw!

I saw the Daily Audio Bible a couple years ago when searching for a Bible reading plan (’cause I never know what to read!), and I gave it a try.  It was okay, but I thought the guy who read it was a bit cheesy, and I just never stuck to it.  Surprise, surprise.  But, this year I knew something HAD to change, so I decided to give it another try.  I’m always listening to something as I wash the mountains of dishes that come with a family of 7 and no dishwasher, so why not let that something be the Bible?

I’m in love.

Okay, at first I was feeling again like the guy was cheesy, but I was determined to give him a fair shot. It only took about a week, and I grew to really like him!  Brian is endearing and I really can tell that he loves God’s Word. He reads with feeling and I like that.  When I’m listening I’m more prone to actually take in every word because I can’t just start skimming when things get boring.  (guilty)  I like that Brian introduces each book before he starts to read it, to give it a bit of context, and then at the end he does a little devotional.  It’s great!  They also have people call in at the end and pray and stuff, but honestly, I skip that part.  🙂


We started listening to the Old Testament portion in the morning during breakfast, and then we listen to the New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs portions in the evening before we do our family read-aloud.  It has been awesome!  Our whole family is getting God’s Word every day and I am just so blessed by it.  I usually listen to the whole reading another time during the day so I can hear the devotional as well.  It’s really been beautiful for our family so far.  Brian is our family friend now, even though he doesn’t know it- cheesiness and all. The kids will remind me “We haven’t listened to Brian today!” We’ll see if the enthusiasm continues when we get into some of the more intense books…but hopefully we’ll have our routine down by that point and we can just charge on through.


So, those are my New Year goals and how I plan to work toward them.

What about you?  Do you like New Year Resolutions?  Have you made any this year?  Do tell!

The pics are of the kids’ school during the holidays. Sweet, right?

More About School

Yay December!  Pandora comes to life in our house around Christmas time.  We’ve got the “Peaceful Christmas”, “Ray Conniff Singers Christmas”, “Amy Grant Christmas”, and “Frank Sinatra Christmas” stations on heavy rotation. It’s a beautiful thing.  I’m smiling just typing it out!

Life has been a bit non-stop around here, but it has also been good.  We’ve found a smidge of a rhythm, which is more than I could say for many months before this, so I find joy in that.

The kids are really doing awesome at school.  They have passed through the season of merely surviving (thank God!) and have moved into a season of growth.  God has been so faithful to our kids.  I have done more than my fair share of worrying about them since we very first moved to Ukraine, and all along God has spoken the words “Do not worry about your kids.  I am with them.” But of course I still worry and worry and worry…because I guess I’m a slow learner. Anyway, I’m now seeing some of the fruit of His watch and care over them.  Things are still challenging in many ways, but we aren’t drowning anymore, and there are a whole lot less tears.  Things are looking up!

Addy is in fifth class and is just fantastic.  She’s really growing into a lovely young lady.  Can you believe she’ll be THIRTEEN in February????  What the heck? She is so kind and so joyful.  If you knew her as a little bitty girl, she is just the same, only taller, and with some maturity added in.  By age, she should be in 7th class, but the school really thought it was best for her to do 5th this year.  She’s feeling the age difference in a pretty big way, but has found one sweet friend, Vika, that she really loves.  

Addy is hoping to talk with the school and work hard to skip a grade next year, in order to get her closer on par with her peers.  We’ll see if they are open to it.  I’m proud of her for having the guts to try!  Addy also goes to a middle school youth group at the church where a few of our friends go.  She enjoys that a lot, and it’s just the right thing for her to spread her wings a bit.

Addy LOVES Bluebell and helps take such good care of her

Ezra is in fourth class and is coming right along.  He has a couple little friends, Mark and Nikita, that he really loves.  I’m so thankful for them!  School is harder for him than it is for Addy, but he is really working hard and doing well.  Our friend who helps him with his homework is just fantastic with him, and step by step he is improving his skills and understanding.  

Last week Ezra’s class did a dance for all the parents and other students and Ezra rocked it!  He was amazing!  We were shocked because he was dreading it so much.  You know, he had to hold a girl’s hand!  NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!  He warned us that he would probably be sick that day and not be able to participate. 😉 But, lo and behold, he gathered the courage and did amazing.  What a brave kid.

Ezra and his buddies at his birthday outing

Hava is in first grade and is just rockin’ it.  She is so blessed to be able to start out from the beginning with her appropriate age.  She’ll have a much easier time than Addy and Ezra because of it.  She’s learning to write Ukrainian cursive and is coming right along with her Ukrainian reading.  She has lots of little girlfriends in her class, and her biggest complaint is that they all fight over who’s going to hold her hand when they have to pair up to walk down the hall to lunch. What a hard life!  Hehe.  

School in Ukraine is generally much more serious than in the US.  There is not a lot done with fun in mind, and the standards for work are extremely high.  Despite that, I think Hava’s teacher does her best to understand that her little students are very young and need extra grace.  I appreciate that.

Hava and her little school friends. CUTIES!

Vladik is attending the same school as Addy, Ez, and Hava and he LOVES it.  Oh my word.  He gets absolutely giddy when it’s time to go to school.  Our friend Tamara teaches him and she is just the right fit for our special boy.  She is not a trained teacher, but she is an experienced mom and she loves Vladik.  She sees his value and sees his potential.  That makes her the perfect choice.  Four days a weeks she comes to our house, picks up Vladik and takes him on the trolleybus to school.  He does PE and art with Addy’s class, and the other time is spent in his own little classroom doing individual lessons with Tamara.  Then she brings him home after lunch. They are working on learning about months, days, seasons, weather, numbers, counting, personal hygiene, appropriate social interactions….all the stuff you would teach your toddlers and preschoolers.  

Vladik has many big gaps in his knowledge, so we decided to start at the very beginning and make no assumptions about what he does and doesn’t know.  He is eager to learn and is soaking it all in.  Tamara speaks no English, so Vladik has learned to speak English at home and Ukrainian at school.  His language is EXPLODING!  It’s really the ideal situation for him and we are so thankful that God made a way for him to get the education he needs.

Vladik at his class that he attends once a week at Mission to Ukraine

Seth.  Seth was and is our biggest mystery.  🙂 His needs are different than our other kids and much more difficult to decipher.  We have struggled since September to find the right educational fit for our Sethers.  He just wants to stay home with mommy all day, which would be fine, except that then he gets zero Ukrainian.  He will go to first grade next year, and it will be 500 times harder for him if he doesn’t get a better handle on the language. Because of that, we knew we had to find some sort of kindergarten/preschool for him to attend, at least part time. 

We tried a few places and just never felt peace about it.  FINALLY, last week we found our landing place for Seth.  Ivanivka, the village where we are building our Wide Awake Homestead, opened a kindergarten at the public school there and we started to send Seth.  There are 7 kids there right now, but more will come when the weather warms up.  (It’s super cold in the classroom…like kids wear their snowpants the whole time…) It meets for 4 hours a day, and we send Seth four times a week.  They do some preK stuff in workbooks, but mostly play.  It’s perfect for Seth.  He’s not ready to do a bunch of seatwork.  He mostly needs to interact with other kids and gain some confidence with the language.  We’re only in week 2, but so far so good. He’s only refused to stay one day so far, which for Seth is pretty good! 😉   Hopefully things will only get better from here!

Ivanivka School


I took a pic of the math book I needed to buy for Seth’s class

 School has been a HUGE help in bringing some stability to our lives here.  Our kids know what to expect and where they belong.  It is definitely a super challenging road to walk, but so far any issues that have arisen have been able to be worked out with administration.  They love our kids there and really want to work with us.  I’m thankful.

Thank you to all of you who pray for our kiddos.  It means so much to us!

Tuesday

1.  THANK YOU all for praying for the situation with our new little guy at the institution.  Please keep praying for his health, as well as for the impact of that night.  The impact is far-reaching, relationally, politically, and spiritually.  I know I sound vague, but I gotta be. (Any former youth groupers remember the “unspoken” prayer request?  Ha!)  Just keep praying, pretty please.  Thanks 🙂 

2.  School is going great for the kids!  We have gone from daily tears to smiles and declarations that “This was the best day!”.  Of course if you ask, Addy and Ezra will tell you that school is “so boring”.  But, they are making friends and feeling comfortable and understanding more each day.  Our friend, Romana, comes each day at 4:30 to help them with their homework and she is saving our lives, one story problem at a time. I really do like our school and I am so thankful that God has given our kids a safe place to land and grow.  

On the bus, headed to school


3.  Jed and Vladik return today! FINALLY FINALLY FINALLY!  I didn’t mention it here, but we had a bit of an immigration fiasco last month.  We are applying for permanent residency and we were missing one apostille.  We didn’t know it, and Jed had to leave the country.  You can only be in Ukraine for 90 days out of 180 days without a visa or residency, and he met his limit.  So, in the dead of night we made a run for the border.  Think Sound of Music, but much less romantic.  Think tears and a trashed house and frantic calls to friends to take Bluebell at the last second.  We spent a few days in Budapest as a family, and then I returned home with four of the kids, while Jed and Vladik couch-surfed throughout Europe, waiting till Jed could get on the other side of his 180 days.  Finally, today, after 33 days and 10 countries, Jed and Vladik are coming home! Many thanks to our gracious friends all over the continent who have cared for my boys so well.  What would we do without you all?  

Hungary

France

The border of Germany and Austria


4.  We are hiring a friend to teach Vladik individual lessons at school.  I’m so excited and hopeful for him!  Starting next Monday he will go to school with the other kids in the morning, and his teacher will accompany him.  He will do music, PE, and art with Addy’s class (fifth grade), and then his teacher will give him his own lessons for the rest of the time. Vladik will attend school half day, 4 days a week.  I’m working on making the lesson plans and it’s quite the job, but necessary.  Vladik wants to learn, he wants to go to school like the other kids- and he should! I think he’s going to love it.  I’ll keep you posted! 

5.  Today we re-submit our residency documents.  Hopefully all is in order…otherwise the 4 kids and I will meet our 90 day limit.  Yeah, let’s not think about that.  Everything will be fine.  Everything will be just fine.  No need to worry….ahem. Yikes.

Photos for residency: no smiles allowed!


6.  Guess who saved my life this past month?  GRAMMY!!!!  When Jed’s parents found out that I would be without Jed again, and this time here in Ukraine, Grammy hopped on a plane and rescued me. Seriously, if Grammy hadn’t come my kids would be running with the wild dogs in the street.  Things were at critical mass around here.  She has cooked every meal and washed every dish since her arrival.  I bow at her feet. 🙂


7.  For all the Bluebell-lovers out there, I’m happy to report that Bluebell is doing just fine.  She is happy and obedient and just a joy to our whole family.  She was a bit bored so we found her some new chewies at the grocery store.  Cow hoof, anyone?  


Welp, Jed and Vladik are on their way home from the airport, so I better go.  Thanks all, for loving us and praying for us.  This has been a bit of a tough season, but we know that God’s plans are in motion and our trust is in Him!  

The Big School Question

It’s that time of year again!  School is on the brain.  School uniforms can be seen in every shop, little tents can be seen on the sidewalks selling school supplies at a discount. Here we goooooooo!

School is about to start and the Johnson family has (yet again) the big question looming over our heads: “What will we do about school???” I gotta tell you, I’m am SO OVER asking that question.  I’m over it! I have to admit to being a bit jealous of everyone who stays in one place and without much thought or debate knows exactly where their children will go to school each year.  I’ll admit to being a bit jealous of everyone who knows what to expect and what supplies to buy how to communicate with the teachers and what is expected of them and their children.  But, pity party over.  I realize that we will never be those people.  Time to suck it up and move on.  🙂 

Uniform shopping!


There are several variables that make schooling a big challenge here.  First of all, we seem to be the only foreigners with kids around here.  If there are others they must be hiding because no one knows about them and no one has ever seen them.  Because our kids are, seemingly, the only foreigners and are not fluent in Ukrainian the schools have no idea what to do with them.  ESL type programs are nonexistent here, because everyone is from here! I know that kids learn quickly, and will eventually catch up, but it’s not like Addy can just enter 6th grade here and on day 1 write an essay in Ukrainain.  There’s just no way!  Addy and Ez will absolutely need help and assignment modification, but if schools have never done that or considered that before, then their answer is usually just to put the kids in first grade over and over so that they don’t fail.  Hava will be fine because she’ll do first grade, and Seth will be fine in preschool/kinder, but we are pretty adamant this time around that the schools find some way for Addy and Ez to be with their peers.  

There are four schooling options available to us:

1.  Local Public School.  PROS: Free, great opportunity for social integration, taught 100% in Ukrainian, opportunity to go to school with neighbors. CONS: Big class sizes, no ability to modify assignments for our kids, our kids would go to the village school which does not have a good reputation, a public school would not accept Vladik. 

We sent Addy and Ezra to our neighborhood public school for a semester in 2014.  It was a fine experience.  They both did first grade and all went fine.  It wasn’t amazing, but it was okay.  I would be very hesitant to send them to public school in the upper grades. They are just not equipped to work with us.

2.  Local Christian School. PROS: Great opportunity for social integration, taught 100% in Ukrainian, opportunity to get to know other Christian families, smaller class sizes.  CONS: No desire to modify assignments for our kids, unsure if they would accept Vladik, they have a waiting list right now, so most likely we wouldn’t get in anyway. 

We sent Addy and Ezra to this school for a semester in 2014 and it was just okay.  They wanted them to continue to repeat first grade until they were fluent in Ukrainian…so yeah, probably that’s not the best option for us.  NO WAY are we making them repeat first grade again.  NOPE. 

3.  Home School. PROS: We know how to do it.  🙂 No language barrier or cultural barriers, they will not fall behind in study content and English reading and writing, more time together as a family, more time to be involved in ministry as a family.  CONS: Social isolation (NO ONE homeschools here), far less exposure to Ukrainian language.

My heart longs for this option.  I love homeschooling my kids and and I believe in homeschooling 100%.  It is cozy and wonderful and would be BY FAR the easiest option for us.  But, we know that we know that is not the option God has for us. If we call Ukraine our home, then we must give our children opportunities to be a part of Ukraine.  They will be absolutely isolated if we homeschool, and in a very closed culture we must provide them with opportunities to be with other children and develop language skills. We are already the oddity everywhere we go.  We can’t just keep our kids at home.  We just know we can’t.

3.  Local Ukrainian Private School.  PROS: Great opportunity for social integration, taught 100% in Ukrainian, smaller class sizes, a desire to integrate our kids and modify assignments for them, open to Vladik.  CONS: We don’t really know anyone there so it’s starting all over.  

This is the obvious choice for us at this point.  🙂

We met with the director of the private school this last week and the meeting was super positive.  She was full of energy, and right away it was obvious that the director and the teachers were excited to have our kids.  It was like they were excited to accept the challenge, which is a huge blessing to us.  We don’t want to feel like our kids are a burden to the school.  They are open to putting Addy and Ezra with their peers which is a HUGE blessing to us!  Maybe the most miraculous moment in the meeting was their reaction to Vladik.  There was not one moment when they debated if they would accept Vladik into the school.  They looked at him and were like “Okay, now let’s  decide where we should place Vladik.”  Not “if”, but “where”.  Miraculous.  We were almost positive that by bringing Vladik back to Ukraine that we were basically deciding he would never get more education at a school, because Special Ed does not exist here. What a big surprise and blessing that they are willing to take him, and WANT to take him.  YAY!!!  


At this point it looks like Addy will be in 5th class, Ezra will be in 4th class, Hava will be in 1st class, Seth will be in kindergarten, and Vladik…we’re still up in the air about him.  He will need a one-on-one who will help him in the classroom, and then take him out part of the time for individual instruction.  The school needs to find and hire a teacher for him, and then they will need to figure out which classroom is the best fit for him.  If you could pray that they find the best person for him that would be great!  It needs to be someone who will treasure Vladik and love him for who he is, yet not be afraid to push him to meet his full potential.  

They are basically having us fill out a form that says Addy and Ezra have special needs, as well as Vladik.  This will enable the school to legally modify their assignments and give them their grades based on modified work.  We explained to the staff that our desire for our kids is language acquisition and social integration.  We don’t really care about their grades.  Seriously, grades are the least of our worries!  It is a battle to get educators here to realize that for Addy and Ezra this is not a problem of intellect, but completely a problem of language.  They are smart!  They do amazing at school!  They just don’t have the level of Ukrainian they need to be able to function like the other students. They don’t need to be in second grade at 10 and 12 years of age, they need to be with their peers where they are socially motivated to reach their potential. 

I have no idea how it will all pan out, but at least for now we have a plan and a school that is welcoming us with open arms. The learning curve will be outrageously steep, especially for Addy, Ezra, and Havalah.  We’ll also need to figure out how they can get content and practice in English language stuff without burning them out…yikes. I’m super nervous for them, well for all of us, but trusting God that He will give them everything they need.  

I’ll keep you posted as we go!