The first three weeks in America!

Our wonderful neighbors, the Leishmans, stopping in to welcome our new children

A little family birthday party for Heather they day after we returned home

Looking through her new kaleidoscope given to her from Uncle David, Aunt Melissa, and their two girls

Heather having fun with two of her new cousins

I realize that this is a little too detailed for most of you reading, but with the risk of boring most of you and with the hope of helping someone that finds themselves in my position at some point, I want to include the details. Please do remember that I will not know for another several months or more how well my teaching ideas will work in teaching my adoptive children English. I don’t think my efforts will hurt, and I really hope that they help them immensely.:)

We are alive and doing very well. After blogging so much in the past couple of months, it has been strange not to blog for these two weeks. Time is flying by so quickly.

Everyone has been doing really well. Our original children and our new children have been adjusting quite nicely. I must admit that once in a while I see a slight bit of annoyance in one of my children’s eyes when the new children ALL run to the front door, to the ringing telephone, or pick up the phone after it has already been picked up and just listen. I assured my children that our new children will not be doing these things in a year. It is all new and fun to them right now, and no, they are not as cute doing it as a toddler or young child is, but it is a stage they get to go through.

We are homeschooling them at this point. I have homeschool all my children (the oldest is 24 y.o.). So I have been homeschooling for almost 20 years. They usually go to public school in the 9th or 10th grade. I still have my youngest two and now my three new children all homeschooling. My 14 year old is VERY self-directed and self-motivated and requires very little from me, even in math. Because of this, I feel like I am only homeschooling four children and not five. I have been doing most everything one on one, so we have a constant free-time (recess) going on. I have chosen to do one on one in hopes of not frustrating my new 16 year old that is not academically very strong with having his younger brother and sister learning something faster than he does. I must say that math seems to be his biggest struggle. He has impressed us very much in his hard work in learning to speak and read.

We spend the morning doing everything English. First I run through all the phonics with them. By giving them a very strong phonics base, they will be better spellers and also be able to sound out any word they come across. I begin with the typical three sounds that the letter “A” makes (if I had the symbols to type them on here, I would, but I cannot). B says “b”. C says “k” and “s” — it only says “s” when it is followed by an e, i, or y as in cycle, ice, commencement, cider, and etcetera.:) We then run through all the additional groups such as “igh” the three letter “i” as in light, sight, and fight. Also, “eigh” the four letter “a” as in eight, weigh, and weight.  Then “ay” the two letter “a” usually used at the end of a word, and “ai” the two letter “a” never used at the end of a word. It will be a several more weeks before we begin the 5 reasons for a silent final “e” and all those other “fun” things. It is a little tricky trying to teach them some of these things when they speak so little English. I have always taught my children to read using phonics, but they usually already speak the language. This is a new challenge.

After running through all the phonics cards a couple of times, I have them say the alphabet to me while doing the American Sign Language letters with both their hands. It seems helpful to have them say it and do it.

I then have them hold a mirror in their hand as we review the long list of “th” words that we have made. They do not make this sound in Russian or Ukrainian, and it has been VERY difficult for Jonathon. The youngest two have done very well, but it is still tricky. Jonathon is getting better every day. The words on this list include these, those, this, the, Thursday, thunder, with, faith, mother, father, etc. I have them watch me say the word and then watch themselves in the mirror. They have made huge progress in this area.

Next, I have them read to me. I have had the boys reading the prayer that is said on Sundays when our sacrament bread and water are blessed. I had NO idea how many “th” words are in those two prayers. Listen for the “th” words next time you hear it! I then have them read something else to me. Heather reads from an early reader. If they understood what they were saying, it would be much easier. I worked with Jonathon today on reading more smoothly and not so choppy. He seemed to really get what I was helping him do and did really well.

After reading, I have them write words on the white board. I give them words that they can sound out with the phonics including words that include the “ch” that can say either “ch,” “k,” or “sh” as in chin, school, and chef. They like dog, cat, bed, mom, mother, dad, father, soccer, ball, black, brown, cake, etc. Hyrum tried to spell “cat”  like this, “ckat.” I then had to teach him that the “ck” is never used at the beginning of a word. It seems quite complicated, but they are really getting it. They should be able to sound out any word and be very good spellers when we get through all of this. I usually have them write a sentence that they would want to use throughout the day. When Tony calls, one of them always answers the phone. They usually answer his question, “How are you doing?” but they hand the phone to me after he asks, “What are you doing?” They are actually starting to get more comfortable answering that one.

We do not have electronic games to play, so the children love using our typing program called Mavis Beacon. I worked as a secretary and/or receptionist from the time I was a sophomore in high school until I graduated from college with my accounting degree, so you can bet I am a real stickler about using the correct fingering. Hyrum was so anxious to play the typing games, that he would skip the lessons and play games that he was not ready for. He would not know how to do the correct fingering. I kept telling him he could not do that. We called our Ukrainian friend, Lucy, one morning. I was able to have her explain why I was being such a stickler about correct fingering. In the end, they will be much faster typist if they use the correct fingering. Jonathon had not really used the typing program much at all. I think he thought it was too difficult. I asked Lucy to please tell him that it will be very important for him to be a good typist so that he can type his papers when he gets to the university and even while he is in high school. He has been typing every day since then. They all have been trying to use the correct fingers. Yea!!

We have soccer goals in our backyard that my husband and our boys made years ago. Our six sons all love playing soccer, so our two new sons fit right in. For free time, the kids play soccer, jump on the trampoline, ride bikes, swing, or type. The boys also like to run on the tread mill  and Jonathon likes to lift weights in our basement.

In regards to housework, we cook a lot at our house, so we also have lots of kitchen clean up. We have paired our children up for meal clean up. Our youngest two (one being our new daughter) unload the dishwasher and sweep. Our next two in age rinse the dishes while the other loads (one being one of our new sons), and then Jonathon does the clearing and wiping of the kitchen counter. Our 17 year old son helps fix meals, clear, or where ever he is needed. I have taught all my children to cook. It sure took time to do it, but it has been a very worthwhile investment. My boys have all been doing their own laundry for years, including my 7 y.o. son. I have been teaching our three new children how to do their laundry. Heather is a great little helper around the house. We had fun cleaning a couple of our bathrooms a few days ago. Jonathon has learned to mow the lawn and use the weed eater. We also had the family out pruning some plants and weeding on one of the only nice weather days. We are having some crazy weather here in Utah. I feel like we are living back in Washington with all the rain and cool weather (I actually love Washington, all except the gray clouds and rain). We got some sorrel planted so we can making some tasty green borsch. Sorrel is a perennial. I LOVE perennials! I am waiting for a recipe from Lucy’s mom. I did find one recipe on the internet that sounds about like the one Lucy’s mom uses.

This post is way too long and I have many other things that I need to get working on, so I will fill in more of the details later. I must thank our wonderful friends, neighbors, and family that have been so very good to our children, all of our children.  Thank you!!

Congratulations to all of you that finished this blog post!:) You get to see the all the photos.

Our Mother's Day Skype call to our son serving a mission in the Philippines

Heather at her new friend's birthday party

I took our children up to the Temple to see our neighbor's daughter come out of the temple.

Watching Caleb's high school soccer game

Evening Scripture and Prayer Time at the Faber's

3 Responses to “The first three weeks in America!”
  1. Kim says:

    Anne, I love this post! You are doing so many wonderful things with the kids. I really want to follow that pattern when they are out of school. I need to call you to get some more detailed information. I would also love to get the borsch recipe from you. I just love all the things you are doing. You are such a wonderful example! I will call soon!

  2. Erica Michaelis says:

    Leishman’s are your neighbors?????? They were MY neighbors when I first moved to Utah at 16. Small world! My mom was Annie’s primary teacher when she was little. 🙂 I see Nate and Laurie a lot with my brother also being into theater. Laurie and my brother were in the same cast of Annie that just finished up. So fun! Tell them hello from me. 🙂 Although, they’d probably know me more as Steve and Tena Allen’s daughter.

    I loved all your pictures and I’ve loved seeing you and your kids. You are all amazing! I feel so blessed to have gotten to know you.

  3. Corrine Ceran says:

    Thank you so much for sharing all of this. Someone asked me the other day what I am doing for the children. Uh, surviving!!! Does that sound good? We’ve been home three weeks now. Time for some sort of a schedule, I guess.

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