Summer ends, 3rd Grade begins

All good things come to an end as they say. We had a nice summer overall and the kids loved staying up late almost every evening, mostly running after each other, watching some TV, playing around (tickle wars are the simple, favorite games) and reading stories before bed time.

We did some swimming, although not as much as I would have liked, mostly because the water got so hot that it was completely disgusting to jump in! And also because since we go skating on Saturdays, Sundays I’m busy catching up with housework, groceries, laundry and cooking. But we settled into a nice routine and they never complain about what’s on the plate. What can I say, my mum taught me well.

Skating lessons continue to go well and it gives us a nice break away from the hot sun, although we still get out of there sweating after 3 1/2 hours. Her coach is happy with her progress and she has days where she “gets it” and does amazing things, with the occasional “what happened today” moments, peppered with behavior challenges, etc. On the whole though, it’s a very enjoyable time, which we typically follow afterwards with a dinner (and ice-cream of course) and/or grocery shopping. On this day, she was very loud and energetic…wait, that's like every other day!

Isaac is showing interest occasionally in going to skate again, but then it could be because he knows he’ll get to ride in the car (and he likes my higher seats!) if he goes. We’ll see about that. In the meantime, he’s more than happy to dive and swim.

Isabella’s feet started blistering above her heel and she kept saying the skates were not tight or too small. We went to the shop to have them checked and perhaps adjusted, but as expected, her feet completely outgrew her current skates so now we’re on the second pair, same brand as before but in Size 4 instead of 2 1/2. The shop owner is very knowledgeable and she said it is common for kids to curl their toes to fit in a small boot. Anyway, I thought it would be a while before she broke them in (I know mine feel weird for a while even after sharpening blades) but nope: she was spinning in a matter of minutes with no trouble whatsoever. And no, papa still can’t do that!

During mid to late summer, we started Isabella at the same daycare/school as Isaac and she did quite well there in a small group. The teacher kept them mostly separate so she wouldn’t interfere (which she did every chance she got). At least they got to do some academic work and Isabella finally learned Lori’s phone number. I showed her how easy mine was to remember too since they are so similar. Her reading kept improving and she can now read a simple book with almost no help. So before bed now I give her a book to read to both me and Isaac. She’s finally feeling a positive sense of achievement and always wants to read it again a second time on her own will. Then I usually read another entertaining book and Isaac follows along and tries to recite in his way as well. He has good memory and I can easily tell that he knows what’s coming next as he remembers the emphasis points such as when I’m about to make a sound or read some dramatic passage.

Now that school is back in session, we start by dropping off Isabella first and Isaac second. Continuing on the summer tradition, I connect to Skype and have the kids talk to my parents on the speakerphone. Isabella still looks puzzled every time I tell her that grandma is my mum, but I think she’s getting it now. There is definitely never a boring moment!


Four years

It’s hard to believe it, but time doesn’t lie. Four years ago was one heck of a busy and hectic travel day. I will soon say that I’ve known my kids for more than half their lives and that’s a milestone I am looking forward to bust.

Looking back at the past four years, I can’t say they were all rosy, but I can’t see it being any other way. It’s like sour candy: you pucker and question why on earth you bit into it, yet you finish it up and long for more.

If I had to plot out the feelings of dismay versus feelings of pride and happiness, I would say they balance each other pretty good. How do I know? Because depending on whether it’s a good or a bad day, feelings swing either way, so I suppose it must be pretty much right down the middle! There have been very frustrating days where things just seem to get from bad to worse, but somehow they turn around and you feel like everything is inching slowly forward. Don’t get me wrong: the feelings of disappointment simply stem from the gap between my often unrealistic expectations and the burning desire to see them succeed and make significant progress, whether academic, physical or behavioral.

Whether you like it or not, as a parent you inherit your kids’ struggles and you have to learn to distance yourself from them and do the best you can to overcome them, even though the realized gains are often had at an excruciatingly slow pace. I keep telling myself this, but end up doing a horrible job of actually walking the talk. It does get easier though when you can look back at four years and see the progress had over this journey instead.

Enough sour candy and philosophy! It’s summertime and the kids are out of school. Oh yeah, about that…we were in a little bit of a bind at school’s end. Someone was going to watch over Isaac for the summer and then bailed out a day before the end of school. How about that for a heads up? Luckily Lori managed to find a really good daycare that accepts special needs kids and doesn’t look like a dump. It’s actually very nice and the lady is plain awesome. She used to work for Houston ISD as a Special Ed. teacher and now does this full-time, and also for siblings of special needs kids. She knows how to deal with their behaviors and Isaac has taken to her really well. So far it has been a pretty smooth first month with a couple tiny dips that she knows how to handle with grace. The great thing is that there are only 2 to 4 more kids, sometimes even less, which is the kind of environment that Isaac fits in the best it seems. She is also making him work rather than just “deal with him”, which is what past daycares did really, such as put him in a high-chair and let him suck his fingers in front of mindless TV. How about that for “Montessori”?


Isaac is engaging in communication a little better these days and is starting to make a sincere effort at making certain sounds as he tries to say complete words. I can’t wait to see this little clown finally able to express himself. He’s doing better at eating (thanks to a secret helper in the form of a white, creamy liquid!) and is finally outgrowing his clothes and thickening. He doesn’t seem so fragile anymore, thank goodness.

Isabella goes to her school district’s summer camp. She was in the same program last year and loved it. We started well this year and went downhill pretty fast. So fast in fact, that she came very close to getting kicked out. It seems we have to re-live this script every year and it gets quite…shall I say, annoying? After several speeches involving phrases such as “this is your LAST chance and you’re out”, it seems to have finally sunk in. Fingers crossed as in a week or so her offenses get re-set, but she doesn’t know that and we’re not about to advertise it! But as parents, we can breathe a sigh of relief if she gets through unscathed. Here she is on Galveston island at the annual AIA Sandcastle competition.


We’ve done a little bit of swimming and Isabella got her first US ear infection last week. We had to go to the doctor this weekend as it got pretty bad, but I’m happy to report that she’s already feeling much better. The kids have also started to go to church with their mum a couple times a week, where Isaac participates in a special needs kids program. They both enjoy their time there and seem to be making lots of friends. This gives me some nice alone time to catch up with my other intellectual endeavors. What, you thought I was going to say “to catch up with cleaning”?!

Isabella and I still go ice skating every Saturday. Since they have now changed their coaching policy (no coaching during public skate), we started going to the longer, quieter basic freestyle session and I am personally enjoying it a lot more. Isabella likes to tag around and play a lot more than she likes to practice, but what can you do? I nag her and sometimes she does practice a bit, especially when it quiets down towards the last hour and I become her victim to be pestered as I try work on my crossovers. Skating is the only time where I feel I could possibly be the one disappointing my daughter, but I’m giving it my all to make her proud.


Growing up

It has been two years since I last posted on this blog. I have received a few emails from people interested in Ukrainian adoptions and am glad that it has helped a few families, just like other authors helped us with exploring the possibilities of a Ukrainian adoption, ultimately realizing our dream.

I simply cannot let it lapse this long ever again! So much has happened in these two years and I won’t write about everything that transpired, but will offer highlights, some photos and a glimpse of how life is evolving with the twins.

I guess the biggest news is that my marriage is over. It was something I knew would happen sooner or later. In fact I knew a day before we met the kids (I wasn’t dreaming, contrary to what I wrote on this blog on that day back in 2009), but I am absolutely positive that I took the wisest decision of my life to carry on with the adoption. As hard as some days are with non-neurotypical kids, I just cannot imagine my life without them. The most fitting word to describe my life is “colorful”!

In August 2012 I was recruited to go work for a really good firm, the same firm that offered me a position back in 2007 but took the (dumb) decision to stay put with my former employer. I don’t regret anything though, because my 26 month stint at my second employer was very enlightening, learned a lot of new skills and worked with some extremely smart people. So far the move has been great and I look forward to years of further professional development and satisfaction.

School has been adorned by so many ups and downs. First grade was also rough. Isabella finally got the hang of the alphabet and has developed a keen interest in books, despite her struggles to learn to read. Isaac is making slow progress, but speech remains a tough nut to crack, even at the age of 8. He does manage to communicate though and is still a very funny little kid. Unfortunately his favorite teacher Miss. H decided to call it quits at the end of May 2012, making the beginning of the new school year quite tumultuous.

Right after the start of the 2012 school year, Isaac got kicked out of his second day-care. We were not very impressed by them to be honest and are glad he’s out of there. Luckily his mom’s work schedule could be adjusted so she picks him up right after school. Isabella goes to extended day on campus and we think it really helps her integrate with classmates, do some work, burn some energy and learn to cope with the rules of a structured setting. Isaac enjoys a few quiet hours with his mom, reading and playing, and then they both pick up Isabella late in the afternoon.

I have been doing a lot of cooking and freezing of the bounty, which makes things easier in the evenings after returning home from work. My new employer also lets me work at home from time to time, which comes in very handy when kids are out of school on public holidays. These days as long as you have a good internet connection, you’re almost as if you’re in the office: you have VoIP phone, can support users remotely, attend online conference calls and work on projects remotely.

The kids get home late in the evening, typically as I’m having dinner. Both usually come right in my face to see what I’m gobbling down (they truly do like my cooking!). In most cases they are already fed and ready for bed. We usually sit down and play a bit, watch some TV, get snacks ready for the next day and then go up to do some bed-time reading in Isaac’s bed. The current favorite is Hubble Bubble Cauldron Trouble…I cannot remember how many times we’ve read it now!

Back in December 2011, we held their 7th birthday party at the ice rink and skated for the first time. Isabella really loved it and in January 2012 I started us in some group skating classes. We have been going once a week for an entire year now and we both really enjoy it. After the second group class (one semester lasts about 8 to 9 weeks), Isabella wasn’t doing very well so I decided to get her private lessons with her last group class coach. Miss H is very patient with her and she’s improving every weekend. Her ADHD medication really helps her focus and suppress impulsivity. Here are four clips that show her progress.

20121116_161027In November 2012 my parents came to visit and stayed with us till late January. We had a lot of fun together, kicking things off with the inaugural Formula 1 race in the purposely built track in Austin TX, a couple of trips to San Antonio (one for New Year’s eve and New Year’s day/mom’s birthday) and several other fun seasonal events such as the Christmas lights at Moody Gardens and Nut Cracker.

We have settled into a nice routine now. Weekends are busy with laundry, cooking and grocery shopping taking a big chunk out of it. But overall we have a good time and the kids help out with little things usually.

Well, that’s it for today. I hope to keep posting little snippets from time to time. Thanks to Facebook, I ended up mostly posting various quotes and pictures for close family and neglected this blog, but I think there is still time in my busy schedule to share our experiences. Until next time, so long!


Update (overdue!)

Wow, I don’t even know where to begin.  In my last post almost 5 months ago, I promised to post more often. Clearly, I failed miserably. But I will try to redeem myself by posting plenty of videos this time. I’ve spent a lot of hours fiddling with photos, videos and music. You know how you end up with all that footage that you never watch again and photos that end up collecting dust? Well, I think condensing them into little productions turns all that into something worth re-watching over the years.

So lets’ see…the Fall season was a pretty good one, full of events like Halloween and Thanksgiving. I’ll let the video do the talking.

The kids also turned 6 in November. We didn’t do a party this time as we knew that a couple of weeks after that we would be going to visit my side of the family in Malta and they were all very eager to meet them. So we decided to have a gathering there instead. Plus we were quite busy to get our act together and invite some friends over (Christmas time is not the “most wonderful time of the year” for Lori. One word: Retail!). So Lori bought them some gifts and after opening their presents, we went out to lunch. Following that, we went to watch Toy Story 3 in 3D, which was a gift for the whole family: very moving and entertaining.

2010-12-02 14.56.18Just two weeks shy of our departure to Malta, Isaac hurt his foot getting off the bus. So a trip to the minor emergency center and a (badly formed) splint later, we had to set up an appointment with an Orthopedic surgeon once again. He put him in a brace for a week and luckily, that’s all that was needed. Isaac was as good as new a day before our planned departure, which was on the 17th of December at 8:40pm. Lori couldn’t leave with us due to work, so I traveled with the kids to Malta by myself and she joined us 5 days later (but not her luggage, which showed up 4 days later!). I had already done it once again from Ukraine to the US, so what’s the bid deal, right? Well, see if you can figure out what happened from the video.

Ah yeah, it was such fun hauling two difficult kids and all that darn luggage. But I got it done once again and this time, without the aid of harnesses Winking smile

Unfortunately I got sick twice while on vacation and so did Lori. And pretty much everyone else in the family (yup, they blamed me for it). Luckily the kids did not get sick, probably thanks to their flu shot. You can bet that I’m getting it next season!

We had a great time visiting everyone when we could and so did the twins. We did not get to see everyone as it was very difficult to accommodate everyone since we spent almost 60% of our time coughing and fighting fever. For example New Year’s eve was a blast. Unfortunately that same night on January 1st, I started round #2 of my fight against the flu.

We finally got better a few days before our departure and the weather, albeit a bit chilly, was calling us to get out, so we did!

So we made it back to the US in one piece and slid right into the usual routine. The first week of school was rough. Actually, Isaac’s first day back was awesome. He missed his teachers and aides, and was in great spirits. But it didn’t last long and the rest of the week was shaky. Isabella had on and off days but stabilized a bit after that. However her performance at school isn’t going so well and we’re now trying some medications to help with her attention deficit. We’re not seeing results yet but we still have plenty of legroom to increase the meds.

We had a parent-teacher conference and learned a lot more about how they spend their day. The highlight for me (and I’m sure Lori’s too) was to hear the teachers talking about how the kids in the main classroom adore Isaac and are always trying to help him when he’s having a tough time integrating in the classroom. It was actually quite moving to hear, and the teacher said the kids were asking about his whereabouts daily for the extra few days that he lost due to travel. His Special-ed teacher reported how he’s actually doing quite well academically and also how well he’s doing at learning and communicating through sign language.

Isabella’s teacher also said that the kids try to help her when she has a hard time following or understanding. She’s not being effective at focusing and conducting independent work, and the school finally realizes that she needs extra support. A few days later we had an official meeting and we’re glad that Isabella will now also have an IEP and further support in the classroom. It might not happen until next year, but at least assuming she moves on to first grade, she won’t continue to fall so much behind her peers. Here’s their first school performance. We were delighted to finally see Isaac participating with the rest of his friends, something that he was never allowed to do while in Ukraine. Thanks Miss L., Miss M. and all the team!

As you have seen in one of the videos, Isaac lost his first tooth in Malta. Isabella’s teeth keep coming off. Well, actually she pulls them out herself, sometimes quite early too. Can’t stop that girl. As she likes to say, “That’s crazy!”

DSC04164As the weather got better, we finally met our friends the H’s for a great day out at the zoo. We can’t wait to go back when time permits to meet again and also some other friends which we haven’t seen in a while.

On the Speech Therapy side, we have appealed with our health insurance company and we’re now waiting for a decision. I’m not holding my breath but at least we gave it our best shot. We had to stick with the same health insurance company as last year since there was no better option. Hopefully they’ll listen to our plea for the benefit of our kids.

Well that’s a wrap: 5 months in one post. You can now rest your eyes…until next time!

School and more

Wow, over 2 months since my last post. I’m beginning to become a real slacker! Let’s just say that life is getting more and more hectic. All the changes to life’s routine don’t help, but I think now that I’m much more settled into my new workplace and have all my systems and methods in-place (like Live Writer at work and my laptop and blogger-droid on my new phone), I should get back to more frequent, short-post blogging.

So Isaac’s thumb is all healed finally. We still didn’t do much swimming though after that. For a while every weekend it would rain and I really needed to take care of a recurring algae problem, which came down to dumping almost half the water out, refilling, cleaning the filters and super-shocking.

Housework and paperwork (mostly medical) has been keeping us busy. The to-do list is still long but hopefully we’ll manage to wrap most of the things up. It’s not easy when you are so exhausted by week’s end and need to relax a little. During the week we don’t get to cross anything off that list. Lori leaves work and picks up the kids from two separate daycares, and goes home to prepare dinner/warm up leftovers. Then it’s time to give the kids a bath, maybe do a little schoolwork, or play and make a lot of noise, catch a few minutes of something on TV and then take them to bed. I always come back downstairs for some quiet ME time, which consists of reading, testing software, other blogging, emailing, organizing, and maybe some TV watching. Which means I go to bed late and then get progressively tired each day, making it impossible to break the cycle.

Kindergarten is going…well, just going in some cases! We’re having some good struggles. Isabella has her good and bad days where she won’t listen, can’t stand still in her seat and has a hard time following rules. Thank goodness the teachers have a lot of patience. We’re working on writing and reading skills, mostly practicing to write her name. She can already recognize most of the alphabet when asking her to pronounce a letter you point at, or when using flashcards. But 2010-10-08 19.28.29she struggles a lot when asking her to do something on her own. For example when writing her name, if you point her in the right direction, she does well but if you leave her on her own, she ends up not copying the letters she’s supposed to copy. It is very frustrating at times, but we (especially me!) just have to re-define expectations.

Isaac has a lot of bad days, peppered with a few occasional ok ones and a handful of great days. He spends most of his time with special-ed teachers and maybe an hour or so in the regular kindergarten classroom (he generally does really bad here). Lori has been working slowly with him on reading. I don’t have the 2010-09-10 08.04.21necessary patience as I expect to see results fairly quickly and that’s just not how things work with him. The teachers are saints; I don’t envy their job! Despite the hard times, they just love Isaac so much and are always happy to see him and his sister in the morning. Here’s a shot of the first day of school just before drop-off.

Speech is going well with an occasional off day, but on the whole we’re making progress. The downside is that insurance will only cover up to age 6 and that’s only a few weeks away. We can still keep going but a quick look at the math reveals how unsustainable that would be: 1 session @ $200 x 2kids x 45 weeks = $18K! So we’re in the process of researching other health insurance options and maybe trying to appeal that imagejpeg_2exception due to medical necessity, especially for Isaac. Isabella is improving enough that it might not be necessary for her to attend much longer. Her sounds are becoming clearer and her vocabulary is improving, although she still struggles with some more abstract words such as the meaning of ‘under”, ‘over’, ‘medium’, etc. Considering the short language exposure, she’s doing great!

We have been taking the kids out separately so we can focus on each one better. For example Lori might go for a shopping trip with Isaac and I might go out to do 2010-09-11 11.31.35some work outside or wash the car and take Isabella with me. Here she is helping me cut down branches and do some yard-work.

We have not been doing a great job at keeping up with friends. Hopefully we’ll get back to hanging out more often. Speaking of hanging out…since it was my birthday in September, we went “out to eat” that evening (Isabella loves saying that phrase). We had a good time, only until we got home and Lori got sick! It was probably all a coincidence and since we pretty much all ate from each other’s plates and didn’t get sick, we couldn’t blame the restaurant. Here’s Isaac munching on brownie and ice-cream. Did I tell you he’s on a high-calorie diet?? And then there’s Izzy (Lori’s nickname for her) giving one of her beaming smiles.

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That’s it for now! Let’s see what’s in store for us today at school…


Beware: Long post. What is it this year with visiting the ER? We never needed to before, but this year we went 3 times already. My Dad’s kidney stone in October/November started the trend in 2009. Isaac kept things going in 2010 after his seizure wouldn’t stop, then Isabella during our vacation (more on that later) and on Friday 30th July, I had to pay a visit myself. Lori’s managed to avoid it so far, but the year is still young, so watch out!

I was going to write about our trip to visit Lori’s side of the family, but since I started a new job on July 20th , I didn’t have the right muse. So I worked 4 days and then the following Sunday, I got sick. Really sick. It felt like the flu, strep throat, fever, and pain in my leg. Lori had some fever and sore throat too. My leg pain turned out to be the main problem: cellulitis. After visiting an urgent care facility and taking antibiotics, things got worse, so they prescribed an additional one. Well, that wasn’t enough either and I also ended up battling a 3-day non-stop headache and neck pain , so after a follow-up visit on a Friday afternoon, the doctor looked at me and said, “you need to go to the ER!”, so there I went on Friday at 3:30pm: ER visit #3 for the year. I ended up getting a tetanus shot, loaded with antibiotics via IV, blood tests and a doppler test to check for blood clots. I finally made it out at 10pm, my leg still looking like I took a blow torch to it. My head felt like it was floating a few feet above my shoulders but I managed to make it home ok. And all this perhaps due to an insect bite? Possibly. And if that wasn’t enough, the doctor prescribed new, very strong antibiotic pills for 10 days, twice a day, for $15.80 per pill Sleepingwith insurance! They make me dizzy, but I had to go back to work as taking an unpaid week of sick time after just 4 days of work at a new job was more than enough. This year is not gonna go down as a year of savings; not even switching to Geico will help! (we actually switched to Allstate). Here’s a very flattering photo of Isabella and myself sleeping on Saturday afternoon. Notice I’m wearing the same bloody shirt from Friday’s adventure.

So back in the second week of July, we took a drive to Roaring River State Park in Missouri (here are part 1 & part 2 of someone’s videos of the area). It was about a 10 hour drive, just under 600 miles. The weather was hot and it rained pretty much every day. On our way, Isabella got sick…sore throat and fever (sounds familiar?). We had to IMG_3745stop and get some over the counter meds and some head cooling strips/pads. Overall the drive was good. About 3 hours from our destination on Saturday afternoon, we got a call that our nephew Travis was at home and since he never met the kids, we took a detour to the Tulsa area and completed our trip the next day. 

So we finally made it to Roaring River on Sunday at around 1pm. I had only one thing on my mind: the World Cup final game! How on earth was I going to watch out there? Did anyone know what the heck it even meant? So we went to the Lodge just up the road and luckily, they had a lounge with a TV room. We ordered some food and while Lori and the kids ate on a table, I ate a salad to-go while watching the game on an old, orangey, rear-projection screen. At least I didn’t miss it, although it wasn’t a very exciting game. That brought the tournament to a close, which due to unemployment, I managed to enjoy to the fullest extent possible.

We then went to the campgrounds and met some family. They had a pick-up truck and I put Isaac in the truck bed. He was quite happy. Isabella wanted up too, so I put her in there with him while I mostly watched over Isaac’s every move (he’s the least stable after all!). Suddenly, I see Isabella fall from the tailgate as her leg got caught, and landed right on her chin with a bang. No, not on grass but on asphalt. Needless to say, she had a nice gushing wound and was crying while we tried to stop the bleeding. What a fantastic start to our vacation! What did that mean? ER visit #2 for the year. We actually tried to find an Urgent Care facility instead but there were none in the area, so we took a trip to St. John’s in Cassville. They cleaned her up, put some glue around the chin to hold some strips to close the wound and we were done; Cost: around $200 after insurance. This meant she couldn’t swim. This contraption was supposed to last a week but it only lasted 3 days. I wonder if I can get a refund? ;)

First Ride - The American PlungeLuckily, that was the first and last bad thing that happened. Isabella’s fever and sore throat went away and she didn’t make a big deal about not swimming. We  found other things to do, such as visiting Silver Dollar City. They absolutely loved the rides, getting wet, etc. Finally Isaac was able to ride with us and they had a blast. Movement is too darn exciting to them and as other kids cried in terror, they just couldn’t get enough and wanted to keep riding over and over until our stomachs just couldn’t take any more rides! It was a very hot day and we enjoyed plenty of icy lemonades. We ended the day with a nice ice cream and a tantrum by Isabella (she was just too tired to control herself at the end). The picture on the left is the first ride we took as a family and surely the first real ride at a park for both of them. You can see Isabella’s $200 chin contraption and her look of terror. But don’t worry, she was as excited as can be at the end and wanted to ride again. Isaac seems like he can’t believe what’s happening.

IMG_3751I fished and maxed out every morning on rainbow trout. We took the kids around with their bikes in all their protective gear glory. Isaac is learning to pedal pretty good but just doesn’t have the strength to propel himself yet. Isabella of course was running far away from us, falling each time she took a turn too fast while looking back, but somehow managed to save herself from getting Isabella First Trouthurt again. She has pretty good balance and although her falls are not very elegant, at least she can escape a dramatic fall, somehow!

One afternoon I took Isabella to fish. She had a good amount of patience. I cast for her and she reeled in. It was great as she finally hooked a trout after rigging it with a fly I found in a wad of fishing line lying on the ground. She was so happy and now wants to cook her own fish.

The family reunion was atrociously hot. Everyone was sweating like crazy. Even Isaac was wet and he usually doesn’t sweat at all. The kids had fun, ate a good amount, played around…and we had to chase Isaac a couple of times as he ran out of the covered area and headed towards the pool. I couldn’t blame him! Unless it’s in IMG_3777an air-conditioned venue or moved to October, I’m not going again!

There was a mix-up with reservations and we had to find a new place for the last 2 days. That cost more than expected as everything was booked since it was a weekend. We managed to find a really nice cabin owned by the State Park and the Lodge, and was well worth it to end our vacation there. On the morning of our departure, Lori wanted to fish so we took a risk and went at 6am with the kids. I let Lori fish while I took care of the kids. Isabella, watched, talked to family members and played with the fish on stringers, while I sat Isaac on a stand and I too managed to max out by around 7:30am (fishing starts at 6:30). We left the campgrounds around 10am and got home by 8pm. It was a good break just before the start of a new job.

But that wasn’t the end of the medical mishaps. On Saturday 24th July, Isabella broke Isaac’s thumb. Don’t worry, there was no ER run this time. I took him to an Urgent Care facility by our house, the same one we visited a few days later when we got sick and on the Friday follow-up. Monday Lori took him to an Orthopedic surgeon and put a cast, which hopefully will be taken out this coming Monday. That would be good as we’ve held off swimming for over a month now. Although with this heat, the water is going to hit 94F really easy! Next: Kindergarten.

One year down

It’s hard to believe, but exactly one year ago, the kids became US citizens and slept in their own bedroom for the first time. I can safely say it was the longest day of my life, traveling with two kids that were not easy to control! But a lot has IMG_3738changed since then, and even though we still have to keep an invisible leash on them (especially Isaac of course), they’re much easier to handle nowadays. And look at how excited we all are!

So in the evening we went out for dinner to celebrate. The weather has been nasty around here and it won’t stop raining. Being cooler than usual, we sat outside. It was a nice reminder of all the times we ate out while in Nikopol. We even had Greek Salad! So I made sure to take an unflattering picture of everyone with their mouth open first…

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I’m not exactly sure what I did to deserve this dirty look, but it was worth posting. Then I took another photo of the seemingly giant pizza. But don’t worry, it’s just an optical illusion and yes, we have left-overs to spare.



The kids then ran around a bit around the outside shops at the nearby mall, as the air continued to sprinkle lightly. Isaac’s gait is still not where it needs to be especially when running, but he’s much more coordinated than he used to be.


Letting go of their hands and trusting they’ll come back when called was something we struggled with for some time. Yes, especially Isaac. I find myself repeating that quite often, don’t I?? Baby steps I guess.

Anyway, at least the other good news is that I’m employed once again. I was quite lucky as I know of some colleagues that lost their job last year and still have not landed on a good position. A few others managed to find something after about 6 months or so of intense looking and interviewing.

IMG_3743So with all the ups and downs, I think both Lori and I agree that we cannot imagine life without the little critters. Yes, there are plenty of times where we feel otherwise, but those pass away quickly. Lori still puts Isaac to bed and I do my duties with Isabella. Head rocking is now pretty much gone and she always wants me to lay down “a bittle bit” beside her as she dozes off. It’s one of the nicest moments of the day for me and in most cases, it takes under 10 minutes for her to calm down and doze off. They’re both making up all those years of missed, loving contact and we’re happy to be there to let them indulge. Yes, especially Isaac!