It has been so great to hear from all of you that followed along with the blog and our journey to Ukraine. We are happy that you enjoyed it, it was fun to write and will be something that we will love to look back on in the years to come. Many of you have asked for a follow up to our return, so here is a little bit of what we have been up to since we go back.
Well taxes are finally done. We have had two very busy weeks. Elona and Ben are doing great. You can tell that Ben is so happy to have us home and thrilled to have a little sister.
Elona is very happy all the time and is picking up English unbelievably fast. She is eating well and sleeping in her own room. She is already a typical American kid and loves hamburgers, hot dogs and chicken strips, but don’t worry, she also eats tons of fruit and plenty of vegetables. She is also beginning to let me know what things she does not like.
The Friday after getting home, Elona and I visited school. Ben was called from class and gave Elona the tour and introduction to her teachers, while I reviewed her class schedule. Elona will get one-on-one English as a Second Language four days a week. She will not be taking Science and Social Studies, instead doubling up on Language Arts, Math and taking Art, Choir and Gym.
Friday night Pam, Len and Angella came over to visit. The girls were so happy to see each other. After showing Pam and Angella her room, Elona, Ben and Angella were off together, playing, laughing and ‘screaming’ (it is going take awhile for Roger and me to get used to the additional noise). This gave us adults time to reminisce about the incredible experiences that we shared in Sevastopol and the real adventures we are only just beginning.
Saturday was a beautiful day so we took Elona to her first visit to the zoo. Robbin joined us there for our first family outing. She really was not as impressed as I expected and got bored quickly. I am used to Ben; he could spend the entire day and then some at the zoo. The one thing that did impress her were the manatees, here she pulled a small notebook out of her purse and asked how to spell ‘manatee’.
Sunday Aunt Robbin treated Elona, Ben and I to the ‘Cirque Dreams – Jungle Fantasy’ at the Aronoff. It was amazing and we all loved it.
Spring Break started April 6th and unfortunately we had cold drizzly weather. Roger and I also needed to finish our taxes, which for us is long difficult process. So Ben and Elona had plenty of time to just hang out and get used to each other. They are doing great together. Of course Elona has been introduced to the Wii. She is a already a good bowler and also loves Mario Cart, which is a car racing game. For days she was frustrated with last place, yelling “no…no…no” at the television screen and moving all over the place, Roger and I could not help laughing. She has improved greatly since then, now she sings while she drives, equally funny. We also played plenty of board games. Elona picks everything up very quickly and though she is very competitive, she is also a gracious loser (and winner).
We stayed busy all week; taxes, cooking, laundry and games. Wednesday, Roger took Elona and Ben downtown to have lunch with Robbin. That evening Roger and I needed a little adult time, so the Delatron’s came over for dinner and we played Yuker while Ben and Elona watched a movie. It was great to laugh and talk about normal life.
Thursday night we had Madeira friends over for a cook out. Nathan is a friend of Ben’s and his younger sister Maggie is in many Elona classes at school. We wanted Elona to know a familiar face when she arrived at school on Monday. Elona and Maggie hit it off right away; it is amazing how they can communicate so easily. They were typical girls, bugging their brothers and then running and screaming. Elona seems so normal, confident and happy, it is it hard to remember that she is still emotionally vulnerable and needs special attention and reassurance of our love and commitment continuously.
Easter was a big day for us. After family time in the morning with Easter baskets and breakfast, we headed to Milford to a friend’s family farm. This was the 50th annual Easter Egg Hunt held at the Carey farm. We have been taking Ben to this wonderful event since he was born, only missing a couple times and we have photos of Ben to prove it. This year Pam, Len and Angella joined us on a beautiful sunny day. The girls run off to hunt together, while Ben went off to hunt on his own and came back with one of the coveted silver eggs. The farm is beautiful, and a chance for us to see out of town friends.
After the hunt, the four of us head to Robbin’s to join her and Bill for a family dinner and our traditional egg hunt. This hunt is for eggs with letters inside that when put together and unscrambled reveals a prize. Robbin has been doing this for Ben for years. This year she wrote out Elona’s clues in Russian and with a little help; Elona figured out the clues and was thrilled with her prizes.
Monday morning – Elona’s first day of school. She was so excited and nervous at the same time, she could hardly wait. I drove Ben and Elona to school and went to Elona’s first class with her. We got her locker and practiced a little. I got her to her next class – Math and Maggie was there. I told Elona I was leaving, expecting her to protest, but no. All she wanted to know was what would happen when school was over. I meet her at her locker after school, she was all smiles. ‘How was school?” I asked. ‘Good, good’ she answered enthusiastically. And that has been her continuous response. She tells us her new friends’ names and she proudly shows us her math homework. She loves her teachers and loves school. Wednesday she took the bus for first time with Ben and she sat with a girl from her class.
So there you have it. Things are going better than we could have imagined. We know that we have great challenges ahead of us, but Elona is bright, friendly and outgoing, a real American Girl. She and Ben are getting along great, and we could not be happier.
Roger, Kelley, Ben and Elona