The last six months of our intense family learning curve can be summed up like this:
A cup of coffee in one hand and a book in the other titled:
"Have a New Teenager by Friday -From Mouthy and Moody to Respectful and Responsible in 5 Days" Dr. Kevin Leman.
Yep, we are suckers for quick fixes, especially when it comes to advice on how to parent teens.
So let's catch up. Over the last six months we have spent so much time just bonding together. We studied Scripture, went on hikes, played lots of games, and just learned how to be a family. The kids were also introduced almost weekly to new friends and church family who have been praying for them over the last two years. They have truly been overwhelmed by all the love and attention. They have also experienced a ton of new things. Here are some of their 'firsts' over the past several months:
1. First family hike
2. First time on an elevator
3. First time at the Opera
4. First time to color Easter eggs
5. First time on a ropes course and zip line (for Tanya and Victor)
6. First time on a plane (for Tanya and Victor)
7. First family reunion (they met over 80 new relatives!)
8. First time in a science museum
9. First time 'shopping' (Tanya says shopping is when you go and try on lots of clothes)
10. First time to play baseball, kickball, ride a skateboard, and attend and complete swimming lessons (certificate and all!)
11. First time at a Texas Rangers ballgame!
12. First time to be left alone with only their non-Russian speaking Grandparents in charge... All went well ;)
13. And many, many, more that I can't even think of right now.
All of the churches have been so loving and kind. Two churches gathered together some gift cards for us which have been a wonderful blessing as we travel around the states.
We flew into the states on May 3rd, spent a glorious month at my parent's house, attended PMI (Pioneer Bible Translator's weekly conference), drove up to Oklahoma for VBS, and then hit the road for Florida. The kids are learning how to wash their dishes after they eat, how to look someone in the eyes when they are being introduced, how to ask permission before watching TV or playing video games, and how to resolve conflict.
One of my favorite moments was when I noticed Dima and Tanya arguing about something when it escalated out of control and I had to send Tanya to her room. She did not move. Finally I had to say, "go to room and cool off or no swimming for 3 days." She practically ran to her room and slammed the door. Deep breath. Here we go.
I tried to calmly talk to her about everything and reminded her that we need to be patient with each other and control our attitudes, etc. She was just seething. Finally I went out to talk with Dima (who had completed forgotten about it and was happily playing out back). I told him that he needs to be compassionate and sensitive and to remember that Tanya is a girl, his sister, and has feelings. Also that words can hurt. So after about 10 minutes, I noticed Tanya was still in her room. So I asked Dima to go see if she was okay. So I hear in a gruff voice after the door swung open "Tanya, you okay?" Then after a few moments Dima strolls into the kitchen and looks at me.. "Mom, Tanya not okay!" Then walks off.
Well, compassion is not the easiest thing to instill in your children. ;)
Step by step we are learning, growing, and becoming the family we had all hoped to be.
Next step: trying to curb the ever growing feeling of 'entitlement' oozing out of our 6 month old teens.