Thursday, April 12, 2012

Starting First Grade

Just shy of six months home from Ukraine, we decided that we were all settled enough from the adoption, the move, the doctor's appointments and life in general to get Julia enrolled in school.  It took us a couple of weeks to meet up with the school district, get all of the assessments done and start our Individualized Education Plan.
As a team, we decided that it'll be best to start her straight into 1st grade.  She will be attending a regular elementary school, but will be in a Special Education Cluster Unit with 8 other students grades 1-3.  There is a great student-adult ratio in the class and her speech therapist will come to her three times a week.  Since we got her in at such a late point of the year, she will also attend classes a bit throughout the summer to keep the routine aspect going.  It's also a school outside of our regular boundaries since they were best able to meet her needs, so starting next week, she will also be bused there and back with a special seat to keep her in a safe position!  She's also going to be going full time, so she'll be there for 7 hours a day, with a short day of Fridays.
After all of the meeting and testing and all of that, as of April 11th, Julia is now a first grader!

Her teacher said she did great on her first day and was just taking it all in.  She sent home a cute little behavior chart on which Julia got all smiley faces.  She even sent home her very first school work!
Even though it's great to see progress, the 'freestyle' "writing" still makes me smile.  It all does! After almost 7 years of having no words to express herself, six months after we checked tags on her shirt at the orphanage to see a size '18 months' and nearly 5 1/2 years after another mom and dad gave up on her. Now, here she is--well fed, dressed appropriately, happy, and ready to learn! The changes in her life still astonish me sometimes.  So much potential in there just begging to be let out!  So here we go on another leg of the journey.  I am so excited to see where this one brings us and can't wait to see the real Julia unfold more and more each day!

A Colorful Easter

We had a wonderful extended Easter this year.  We started by coloring Easter eggs on Thursday night when both Robert and I would be home from work.

Watching the egg go down...
Checking sister's technique
Yep, coloring like a pro!
Very proud that she did it and super excited to see the results!
Hard at work
Crayons add some great artistic touches
One of the other reasons we used Kool Aid to dye them!
Stirring, just in case it helps
Checking the color
Where did it go?!? 
Hooray!  Stirring green water is just as fun!
That would be the 'something naughty is happening' smile
Yep, the eggs go crunch AND squish.

Then on Friday, Robert took the girls up to dinner at his grandparents where they each got a basket of goodies.  On Saturday, there was another visit with Easter baskets from grandparents and finally on Sunday, after I got off of work, we got our family's celebration underway with an egg hunt in the backyard, more baskets and a small dinner with Robert's mom and step-dad and my sister and her family.  Everyone had quite a lot of fun and Lily and her cousin are inseparable whenever they get to play!

Dinner was over by mid-afternoon and it was a beautiful day, so the girls ended their Easter Sunday the way they spend most of their warm afternoons, getting dirty in the yard and scrubbing up afterwards.

All that and the fun isn't over because my parents were out of town so we'll be planning another dinner coming up soon!  Nothing beats a great holiday celebration like celebrating for an entire weekend!