Monday, July 5, 2010

Heading down the right road....

She said....
It's been a while since my last post. I can't believe it's been almost 10 months. Elizabeth completed her first year of high school and is officially going in to 10th grade in the fall. She was nervous about going to high school, but like everything she does, she dove in head first and never looked back :-). She never gives up and works harder than I ever thought about working in high school. She wants to be on grade level and is willing to do what it takes to achieve her goal. Tim and I are so proud of her!

Elizabeth turned 16 in March. We had a Sweet 16 birthday party and sleep-over with all of her Ukraine friends. She started planning this party in March of 2009. She was very excited about turning 16. She was so happy to have all of her friends celebrate with her. She is very excited about getting her driver's permit. Tim has been teaching her to drive the past few months. We signed up for the course through the DPS where Tim will be her "instructor". This will be interesting. When Elizabeth wants something she sets a goal and is willing to do whatever it takes to achieve her goal. She knows that she has to pass a written test as well as the driving test and she is ready to get started.

The Kids love the Rodeo. They wanted hats, boots, and belts this year. Thanks to Ann our adoption group got tickets to the Jonas Brothers this year. It was great! We spent all day at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. They road carnival rides, toured the livestock show and watched the rodeo. They may not have been born in Texas, but they are Texans!

Michael will be in the 8th grade in the fall. He passed all of his classes and has moved to Advanced High in ESL for 8th grade. The most difficult thing for both kids is English - spelling and grammar. We are so thankful to the tutors and teachers who stay after school and work with the kids. Tim and I feel like we are back in school because we do homework every night. We are so happy it's summer!

Michael played basketball for the first time this year. He really enjoyed it. We watched him go from not understanding any of the rules to being a good team player. He would get called for fouls and not even realize he was at fault. Tim couldn't help himself. He was coaching from the stands. Michael's team played in the finals and came in second. He was so happy to get a trophy. He also played soccer again in the Spring. He loves it. He is right in the middle of the photo.

We've made several trips to visit Grandma and Grandpa. The kids love it! Their favorite vacation is going to visit their grandparents.

We are hopeful that the children's brother, Vadim, will be able to visit this summer. He is scheduled to be here for the month of August. He is still attending technical school Ukraine. Technical school teaches the older kids trades like welding, transportation, farming, and maintenance.

He said....

Sharon & I are so glad the school year is over. We worked so hard with Elizabeth to pass the 9th grade. Amen! She did it! Sharon handled English and Math homework and I took Science and History. Elizabeth worked extremely hard. We also have to give thanks to Mrs. Wilson, her math tutor. Sharon and I were no match for 9th grade Algebra. A couple of highlights of Elizabeth's school year. The first semester of World Geography had an assignment where Elizabeth had to pick a country in Eastern Europe and do a report. Guess what country she chose? UKRAINE! Which Elizabeth knew nothing about! I helped a lot with this one. The second semester we had the same style report to do for South Asia. We chose India since I had been there. Elizabeth did the report using the Ukraine report format. She learned how to use Wikapedia and her text book to complete the report . She did most of it herself. I was very proud of her. When Elizabeth grows up she wants to open a Ukrainian restaurant. She is learning to cook and is doing a great job.
We signed Michael up for basketball in the Spring. I taught him and Elizabeth how to shoot hoops. He had never played on a team, but he did very well. We were surprised he didn't kick the ball. He grew out of his old bike and I bought him a Schwinn. Every kid should have a Schwinn. He doesn't take the bus to school. He rides his bike every day and loves it. He did very good in school and passed all of his classes. Michael played soccer again with the same team. They were the champions in the fall, but they did not win one game during the playoffs in the spring. He played good, but the team lost their best player and it was hard to overcome.

Nice break from homework this summer.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Life is Good!

The kids have started their second year of school. Michael is in sixth grade and Elizabeth is in ninth grade. For the first time in their lives they are going to separate schools. Michael is still in middle school and Elizabeth is in high school. So guess what? They both needed cell phones. This is a first for Elizabeth. She now has her own cell phone. She loves her phone. She is very responsible and as the school year has started with lots of homework - there is no one that works as hard as she does. Now, Michael refuses to ride the bus and only wants to ride his bike; rain or shine. Amazingly, Michael never brings home a book. Their progress reports were excellent. They are both doing well in school. We got to go to both of their open houses at school last week. We can't say enough good things about their schools and their teachers. Excellent programs and teachers!
Michael's birthday is coming up. We are going camping. Our weeks are very busy with homework, cooking, and family living and we love every second of it. Elizabeth is learning to drive.....SCARY. Dad has taken on the challenge and Elizabeth is doing pretty good. As a father I only wish they still had cars with bench seats so I could get my darn foot on the brake. Every lesson starts with an apology and a kiss in case Dad goes western.
Michael is playing soccer again. He moved up this year to U14 and the kids are a little bigger, but Michael is holding his own. He gets to play forward this year and he's taken a shot on goal in every game.

We get together with the adoption group often. The kids always look forward to it! They have made friends at school, but they will always have a special connection with their friends from Ukraine. We had a skating party and a birthday party at the skating rink. The kids love to skate! It's great because it's something they can all do together. We visited Mom and Dad over Labor Day weekend. The kids love to go to Grandma and Grandpa's. They have cousins that live near G & G and they really look forward to seeing them too. It's heartwarming to watch them with their cousins, aunts and uncles, and G & G.
We talk to their brother often. He is doing well. He is continuing to study welding and transportation. He is a very responsible young man and we hope that he can come for a visit again soon.

Friday, May 15, 2009

What a Year!

This past year flew by. We were home for one year as of the end of April. Elizabeth and Michael have almost completed one year in school and are doing very well. Michael made the honor roll the last reporting period. Elizabeth has passed all of her tests and will be going to the 9th grade next year.

We spent Spring Break with Mom and Dad in Georgetown. The kids love being at Grandma and Grandpa's and visiting with their cousins. They enjoyed meeting more relatives and can't believe how many aunt's, uncle's and cousins they have:-).

I explained to the kids that the tradition in Texas is to take photos in the bluebonnets during Spring time. Elizabeth did not want to stop and take pictures and she really did not want to sit in a field of bluebonnets, but I insisted. The photos say it all. Michael, on the other hand, thought it would be fun. He couldn't wait to get in the bluebonnets and let me snap away. He thought it was fun to roll down the hill and get dirty. Typical boy.

Elizabeth has made friends and they all went to the middle school dance together and had a great time. She also signed up for the end of the year Beach Bash swimming party for her grade. Michael has made friends too and has enjoyed playing soccer. His team went to the finals, but came in second. He is looking forward to his choir's end of the year swim party at Schlitterbahn.

We get together with our adoption group often. All 5 families have completed adoptions. The kids really enjoy our get-togethers. The Butchee's are going back to Ukraine to adopt T. They may be leaving for Ukraine at the end of this month!

We celebrated Elizabeth's 15th birthday in March. Thank you to everyone for coming and giving her so many wonderful gifts! She loved having the whole birthday experience. Family, friends, cake and ice cream, and presents! You all made it so special for her. Now that she is 15 Tim has the fun job of teaching her to drive.

I know Tim has alot to add. I'm sure it will have something to do with food. He will do an update later this weekend. Thank you for checking in and we look forward to your comments.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Our First Christmas as a Family

We celebrated our first Christmas together. It was even more special because Vadim, the children's brother, was able to spend Christmas with us. He came with a group of kids through a hosting program and was here for 2 1/2 weeks. It was his first time to fly and his first trip to the USA. He quickly became part of the family. Michael had two Christmas choir performances. Elizabeth made poster sized Christmas cards. The kids loved picking out the perfect Christmas tree and decorating it. All of the kids received so many wonderful gifts from family and friends.

Mom and Dad drove in from Austin to spend the holidays with us. Mom brought each child a jar full of coins. They poured the coins on the table and started counting. Mom made her famous strawberry cake and the kids loved it! I think Vadim ate it for breakfast most days. If you look closely at the picture of Mom, Michael and Vadim, you will see $$ in Michael's eyes!

Our adoption group got together several times over the holidays. We all met one weekend to celebrate Yaroslav's birthday. Natalie and Bill invited everyone over to their house for hamburgers, hot dogs, and cake. There were over 20 people there! Two families who adopted from Svitlana's orphanage drove in from Dallas to surprise Svitlana. Svitlana was truly touched to see all of "her kids" so happy, healthy, and thriving with their new families. Many happy tears were shed as old friends saw each other for the first time in over a year. We had a Ukrainian Celebration one day where everyone brought Ukrainian food. Everyone had a great time and the food was delicious.

Since we are talking about food I will end with this. Vadim arrived wearing a brand new pair of jeans that he bought for the trip to America. He only wore them the day he arrived because my friend June had given me several pairs of her son's jeans that fit Vadim perfectly and he ended up wearing them while he was here. He wanted to wear his Ukraine jeans home so he did not pack them. When he got up to get dressed the morning of the flight he put the jeans on and he could barely button them. He gained some weight while he was here :-). I swear he was an inch taller when he left too. It's amazing what good nutrition (and tons of Christmas candy, Grandma's cake, and Fanta)and love does for a growing boy.

Friday, November 28, 2008


Hello out there! Well, everyone has heard Sharon's side of of our new family lives and I thought it was time I shared a little information from my point of view.
Ok, both of the kids are doing really well with their English and school work. They have both shown me a thing or two already. Elizabeth is driven. I mean when she sets her mind at a task she will not give up....ever. I think this dogged determination will help her as she finds her way. She is a good athelete and I got the chance to help her a little bit with her Volleyball training. She had problems serving the ball. We worked on her serve and she got better quickly and finally got the chance in a real game and we were all there to see her succeed. You should have seen the smile on that girl's face. It was awesome.

As you may had read already, Michael started playing soccer and yes he is very good. And even though I did not want to coach, I did because I wanted to spend as much time as I could with him. What a blast! Even though I can't take any real credit for his soccer skills it was awesome knowing that was my kid out there. I have to say, you have to understand, that these kids had never worn a uniform and played on a team. And yet, here they were a couple of months removed from their other life learning English, going to a new school, and playing sports on a team. They are remarkable people and I think will be great contributors to American society. They inspire me to look back and that is something I have not done in a long time. My wife is truly a saint.

I've got to finish my update with a food story. First things first. The kids are addicted to BBQ. I don't know how it happened. They love brisket and corn on the cob. We got to visit Grandma and Grandpa in Austin back in October for Michael's birthday. On the way home we were all tired, but we stopped in Elgin at the Southside BBQ and bought a couple of pounds of sausage and brisket. They wrap it in brown paper hot off of the pit. We threw it in the ice chest and drove home as fast as we could. The first thing we did after unloadding the truck was to make some brisket and sausage sandwiches and pounded them down. It's the first time in a long time that I bit my finger eating a sandwich. If anybody gets the chance to stop by Southside BBQ and get some "bite your finger" good BBQ, I recommend it.


Friday, September 19, 2008

School, Sports and Hurricanes

We had a busy and fun summer. I can't believe that we have been home almost 5 months. The kids started school on August 25th. They both go to the same school so they ride the bus together. Elizabeth tried out for the school volleyball team and made it! She is very excited. She has practice after school every day. Between practice and homework she doesn't have much spare time during the week, but she loves being on the team. Michael is playing soccer. It is his favorite sport and he is very good. When we signed him up to play I asked Tim if he was going to coach the team. He said, "no way - not with my schedule." The second night of practice he came home with an official coach shirt on and I asked him why. He said, "don't ask." He is now the Assistant Coach! When he showed up for the last practice the coach gave him the bag and whistle and told Tim to run the practice because he had a meeting to attend:-). Oh, and his team is the HURRICANES!

Speaking of hurricanes, we just had a visit from Hurricane Ike. All is well here now, but we were a little bit concerned the closer the storm got to Galveston. The winds picked up around 7:00p on Friday night. The sky was a beautiful purple/red/pink color. We stood outside talking to our neighbors as the sun was setting while looking at neighborhood and wondering what the streets would look like in the morning. The storm hit us around 1:00am. It was a blessing because the kids were asleep and they were so tired that they slept right through everything. We lost power around 1:45am. We could hear the wind and rain, but we couldn't see it. I don't know if that was good or bad. At times the wind was so fierce I thought the house would collapse or the windows would bust, but we had no damage. We were very fortunate. All we had to deal with was the inconvenience of no electricity for two days. Luckily, Stephanie got power at her house the day after the storm so we packed up and spent the night with her. The kids loved it! I think they want to move to Aunt Stephanie's! There are so many people in the Houston area that are still without power or have damage to their homes. I can't believe the damage from this storm. Please keep the people of the Houston/Galveston area in your thoughts and prayers.

Michael and Elizabeth are doing very well with their English. Their friends in Ukraine ask them to speak English so they can hear it. The kids call their brother every week (sometimes 2-3 times a week). He is going to a technical school now closer to his hometown. He was able to find his brother and sister and now he visits with them on weekends. I was so happy to hear that he found his siblings. I don't know how, but it's a blessing because he isn't alone anymore. Michael says that he knows how Vadim found their siblings. Every night before dinner someone says a prayer. One night I say it, the next night Michael, and so on. We always ask God to bless Vadim. When Vadim told the kids that he found their brother we couldn't believe it. For the entire 4 years they were in the orphanage no one from their family contacted them or tried to visit. I asked Michael how Vadim found his brother and he said, "God helped him. He answered our prayers."

One of these days Coach Tim will sit down and make an entry on the blog.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Family Photos

Tim & Dean - Birthday Party
Fun with Karina!

Bobby, Hayden, and G-Ma

Thank you Tracey for all of the stuffed animals!

Grandpa with his grandkids.

Which is more wild? Grandma's shirt or Michael's hair?

Father and Son