Saturday, January 23, 2010

Update on the Kids

Just a brief update on the kids....

Olivia is playing basketball and LOVING it! She is doing a great job! She is working very hard in school and is making great grades We are so proud of her! She is definitely in the preteen stage and she has changed drastically!!!

Christian finished playing youth football this year and his team won the championship! He learned a lot and even had a sack that resulted in his team scoring a touchdown! He is soooo smart and is making great grades. He is making some great friends and has decided that he will play basketball and football next year!!! He has made amazing strides. He is the miracle child. His eye is completely straight and we are waiting on his front teeth to come in. He started kindergarten this year and has been doing very well. He is reading and practicing his sight words every day!! Being a kindergarten boy is hard sometimes, especially when you have to follow all the rules EVERY DAY!!

Vica is no longer a baby (which breaks our heart!!) She is growing like a weed and is as cute as ever. She is obsessed with football and puts on her football uniform everyday after school. She is taking dancing, which is the cutest thing you have every seen! She is very excited about starting kindergarten next year and is working very hard on her letters!!

Thanks to all of those that continue to think of us! We are so blessed and everyone is doing great!!!


Sunday, December 21, 2008

So...How Are Things REALLY?

Hello from the Hoods!

We have had such an eventful first semester of school that I do not even know where to begin. First, let me say that we are sorry for not updating everyone more. As you can imagine, we do not have a spare minute and when those infrequent times do come, we are so tired we certainly do not want to look at a computer!!

The kids are doing great! School has gone very well and our first report cards were good. Christian made all A's and Olivia made A's and B's. The reading has gone very well and we are so very proud of their progress. In August, spelling tests were such a challenge that we would spend hours every day writing 10 senetences. Now, Olivia and Christian can formulate their own ideas and sentences and Jerry and I check the grammar. We held off on any sports or activities until we knew more about how school was going to go. Now that things have gone so well, I feel sure that we will be moving in that direction. Christian's class just celebrated Christmas Around the World and his class chose Ukriane. He has the opportunity to share pictures, food, music , etc. with all of his classmates. He actually stood in front of his class and presented pictures from Ukriane. That was HUGE!!

Daniel and Vica have made HUGE progress. We have seen the most change in Daniel. He is incredibly verbal and talks ALL the TIME. He is perpetual motion-literally!! He also gets in the most trouble of the four. We work really hard on not being silly at school, but school has been a place the he loves and had thrived. Vica is no longer a baby! She has become such a little girl and is so confident. Her speech has improved considerably and talks just like any other three year old! She even has a southern drawl!!

The kids have fallen in love with football and they even go to sleep asking to watch practice film at night. Halloween was sooo much fun! Olivia was genie, Christian a ninja, Daniel was Batman, and Vica was a cheerleader!! We ate candy for a month! Thanksgiving was also great and we celebrated by having our family join us at our home for a huge meal. Christmas has been incredible so far!! We have celebrated with both sides of our families and the kids are having hte best time!! Even if Santa doesn't come, we have had a great Christmas!! The children actually knew about Christmas, and knew that it was Baby Jesus' birthday. They are so excited about Santa and we have been blessed to have an "Elf on the Shelf" living with us this year. The Elf has been a huge reinforcement for good behavior!! Our elf flies to talk to Santa every night and the family goes on a scavenger hunt every morning to see where he landed after his long flight! It has been sooo much fun!!

We had some pictures made for Christmas that I have posted so that you can see how much they have changed. Olivia has gained about 12 pounds and grown 2 inches. She has grown up in just 8 months. It is amazing! Christian has gained about 10 pounds and has the best hair ever! We love his curls! He is so smart that we really have to stay on our toes with him! Daniel has gained about 8 pounds and has grown about an inch. His left eye has straightened thanks to his new glasses! We are still working on his vision in his left eye but we believe that in the next 6 months we will see major improvements! Daniel also had 9 teeth removed this past summer which led to 2 temporary bridges. The bridges will be removed when his "big" teeth come in. Needless to say, we LOVE our dentist!! His movement has gotten so much better and he is now beginning to write his letters! We could not even hold a pencil 8 months ago! Vica is now officially a little girl! She loves to take pictures and loves football almost as much a Christian! She has maintained her weight but has grown a ton! It is amazing to look at pictures from 8 months ago and see different children.

We talk about Ukraine all the time. We speak of it fondly and have learned a lot from the kids. They tell us all the time how happy they are which makes us feel great! We are exhahusted but very happy! I am sitting here trying to blog with Christian and Vica beside me on the sofa, Daniel dancing in front of me, and Olivia entertaining her spend-the-night company. There are times that we are completely overwhelmed and then we remember how quiet our lives were 10 months ago. We are truly thankful for the chaos -including the house that is a complete disaster!!We are still trying to figure out how Santa is going to get everything done on Christmas Eve!!!

We hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas and holiday season!! Thank you again for keeping up with the Hoods!!

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Catch-Up on the Hood's

We are sitting around the table enjoying pictures of Kylie Calame and thought that we would update the blog. Kylie, Kea and Lee prayers are answered. Get some rest. The pics on the blog are great.

From Olivia: "Bad Papa, Good Mama. I like bicyle, swing, swimming, and for Papa to get a spanking. Hello to Grandmother and Fred and Sugar. Hello to Huney and PawPaw and two keiskas. Baby Kylie and two dogs. I want to play the piano.

From Christian: Big cars, airplanes, football, lion and tiger at the zoo, power rangers, karate, guitar and drums. Adding and subtracting. Space and space ships. McDonalds.

From Daniel: Mama and Papa good. Everybody I love. Fireworks, beach, and clothes. Eating . I can eat popcorn after my teeth (come in). Later explaination. I love Huney and PawPaw. Grandmother E Fred and Sugar. Nemo. Sabbasca and Aunt Kea. Thomas {the train}. Baby Kylie.I love say blessing.Mrs. Martha,Chips, and shoppin poppin. I was on TV with PaPa. Going to Papa's School and money.

From Vica: I love Papa and Mama. Mama school, mama's. 1 and 2. Samson {fake dog} Cockit (poop) in the potty. Swimming. Soapey soapey. Clothes, big girl panties.

It has been two months since the last update. Here are some of the highlights. We have been to the beach twice. The kids have been dedicated at church. We spent our first 4th of July watching fireworks and very proud to be Americans. We have had nine teeth extracted, tonsils (4) taken out, and three ears pinned back, as well as multiple testings and placements. Olivia and Christian have learned to read in English. Daniel has had staples in the back of the head after a fall. We play on the swingset and ride bicycles everyday. We have also been to the zoo and the movies for the first time.

Mama has no patience Here she is to finish my great literary work.

Hello all! We wanted to give everyone a quick update on how things have been going.

Olivia is like a different girl. She smiles and is very affectionate. She loves to shop and had made some friends in the neighborhood. She is very anxious to start school and has been working very hard on her English. Just last night, Olivia and Christian read several stories in English. It was very exciting. She has gotten her ears pierced and had her tonsils taken out this past week, as well as had some cosmetic ear work. She is a joy and has continued to change throughout the summer. She already knew how to swim and loves the swimming pool!!! She loves to dress up to go to church and works very hard to keep her room clean. She had learned to ride her bicycle and is VERY good it now!!

Christian also had his tonsils out and had both ears worked on. He looks like a different boy. He has just discovered football and had begun telling Papa that he wants to play-we'll see. He also loves to swim and is a pro at the bicycle now. His English has progressed a little slower but he can read English and sounds out words very well. All of his doctor appointments have gone well and we hope that school is a success. I think he is very anxious but will do great!! Christian loves to watch movies and has become a very affectionate child with Mama. It has taken longer with Papa. I hope that we continue to see him emerge over the next several months. He is definitley our shyest child!

Daniel-where to bgin!! Daniel is full of personality and is so much fun. He has gotten new glasses and had 9 teeth extracted. 5 were abcessed. He is like a different child now that his teeth feel better. He will be getting a bridge ont he top and bottom in 10 days. He can not wait to eat popcarn again!! He is definitely small for his age and developmentally a little behind, but we are working on things every day. He is sleeping in his bed like a big boy and VERY excited about starting school. I think that we will see huge changes in the near future. We have already had huge successes with Daniel, like pedaling a bicycle and writing with a pencil. He can also dress himself!! None of things were even a remote thought 9 weeks ago. Daniel loves to help Papa in the yard and generally loves to work. He had a wonderful imagination and has become very independent, which is also a long way from where we started.

Vica is no longer a baby! She is now a little girl! She is officially potty trained and can dress herself in the mornings. She wants to be as big as Olivia. She loves to play dress up and play in the water. She is extremely affectionate and loves to cuddle. All of her doctor appointments have been great and we have had no surprises!! We have been talking with her about starting school in a few weeks and I think she is getting used to the idea. She loves dogs and cats and we are working with her on her numbers and colors. She makes the funniest faces and is very tough. We do not have to worry about anyone running over her at school! It is them that we have to worry about!

Anyway, that is an update on the children. We are really doing great and have not had any surprises so far (knock on wood!!) The kids are wonderful when we go shopping or out to eat. I think they will love being around the other kids in school! We have had a lot going on this summer with taking four kids to multiple doctors but we have just been trying to get it out of the way.

Thank you again to everyone who had continued to check-in on us!! We are hanging in here and loving every minute of it!!! We are very lucky to have these four children. They feel like they have been ours forever. We can not even imagine life without them!!


Sunday, May 11, 2008

A Mother's Day Update

Hello all! We are very sorry that we have not posted since getting home. It is not like we don't have anything to do!! Just wanted to update you on the latest since we have had some time to settle in. Everyone is doing great and Jerry and I never see each other! This is the biggest change that has taken the most adjustment. It isn't the four children, or the laundry, or the cooking, or the sleeplessness, it is the lack of Mama and Papa time. Jerry and I love being together so this has been a huge change for us.
The children have been adjusting well. Vica has some sleep issues that we are working through that were expected. Nothing surprsing here. Daniel has truly settled into his new life and is the funniest of all the kids! Christian is ALL boy and certainly tests the limits, but is beginning to understand expectations and boundaries. Olivia is like a totally different child. She smiles all the time. She and I have made huge strides by doing some shopping and rolling her hair. I should not be surprised. Our family has been very blessed since returning to the good ole' US of A!! Our friends, family, and community have been very generous and have helped each of the children in various ways. Thank you to all of those people that have helped with clothes, food, toys, and all of the other various assortment of gifts we have received. We feel like our gifts came home with us from Ukriane and that was certainly enough to make us happy for the rest of our lives!! We can never explain how much our community, family, and friends have meant to us through all of this. We love you and thank each one of you from the bottom of our hearts! We could not have done it without you!
There are so many stories I could tell you that would warm you heart! The children love their new cousins, grandparents, and the neighbors' children. Jerry's football boys had a swing set/tree house put in our backyard for the kids. We play on it every morning and every night!! OM guys- You are fantastic! I beleive in angels and that is exactly what you have been. The slip-and-slide is also a big hit!!! We have lots of scrapes, bumps and bruises in the first two weeks but nothing permanent. I don't think the children have ever had this much activity. One thing is for sure, they are exhausted at the end of the day!
We have begun our doctor visits-not fun!! I took Daniel and Vica last week, and there were no surprises. The things that we discussed were all things that Jerry and I were already aware of, which makes for a huge relief. This week Christian and Olivia will be going so we hope thing go well!
Today was our first day at church and, of course, Mother's Day. The children each had a card for me and some roses this morning. We spent a pretty low key day visiting with grandparents. The chidlren were very excited about going to church for the first time. They made it all of the way through big church!! Daniel fell asleep and Chrisitan and Vica left a few minutes early with Papa, but we will count it as a success. The were so precious dressed in their Sunday clothes. They were beautiful! Our church recognizes all mothers on Mother's Day. We always honor the youngest and oldest mother, and today, they recognized me specifically. They gave me a corsage and it made me cry!! When I returned to our pew, the chidlren were so proud and were grinning from ear to ear. It was a lot of fun. I think they simply honored me for being the brave soul to take on 4 new children at once:) It was a very special day for me.
The kids have been working on their English and are doing great. Olivia and I can actually almost have a conversation, supplemented by charades, of course. It is like hearing you child's first words in overdrive. We are hearing lots of new words everyday!
We have made some new discoveries. Popcorn and movies in Mama and Papa's bed are a huge hit! They are terrified of thunder and lightening. Anytime is thunders, they think we have to got to the basement, like you do for a tornado. Christian is the official weather watcher in these situations and constantly updates us on whethere things are good or bad via a thumbs up or down. We always say the blessing before every meal in English! Each of the children say their own blessing which consists of "Thank you for ..." It is really the highlight of our meals and they are very proud of themselves.
Overall things are good and changing every day. Getting to be a part of many "firsts" is a lot of fun. Jerry is a fantastic dad, as I knew he would be. It is hard to imagine life without them now (except for the laundry, three meals a day, and the staying at home because you can't take four kids anywhere by yourself!). They have been a joy and I would be rich if I had a dollar for the number of times someone has called "Mama!" in one day. And yes-Jerry and I are looking for a new car because we can not drive anywhere as a group. I sure do love my car that I have now, but I guess the family is a little more important. So bring on the "tank", or the minivan, or whatever we end up with. What a blessed problem to have!!!
Love from a new mom,

Wednesday, April 30, 2008


What an incredible journey ! We finally made it back to Bham on Monday evening at 11:30 p.m. The flight began at 10:50 a.m. - Ukraine time. Our facilitator took another family with three boys and us to the airport. From there, a nine hour flight to JFK. Two hour lay over and we are on our way to Atlanta on a two and a half hour flight. The kids did great on the plane. Daniel decided that all people spoke his Russian/English language and talked a lady's ears off for the entire flight. She spoke Russian so it helped them remain interested and calm. It has been this way for the entire trip. God has always put a person in front of us that has helped with the process or entertained the children. HE is very real if we will look. George Straight has a new song, "I saw God today". Take a listen. We saw him in the faces of our children and the new friends that we made on the journey.
Another thing that Amanda and I did was to get all of the kids bage to take on the plane for small toys, etc. We have our backpacks and all four have bags. They are small enough for the kids to carry. Wrong. Papa and Mama carry all the bags and the two youngest. FUN!

Next is a three hour lay over in Atlanta. Birmingham is 2 hours away. Advice for parents from Bham - drive from ATlanta to Bham. During the lay over the kids began to show their fatigue. So I did what any good father would do. Bribed them with ice cream ! It took me two trips before we actually got ice cream. Yesterday in Ukraine - today in Atlanta airport. When your world consisted of the routine of the orphanage, this can shake anyone. Victoria (Vica) considered the entire airport her chance to play the chase me game. After ice cream it was Benadryl time. Note for adoptive parents - when flying with kids take Benadryl. We are having a good trip and then we get on the connecting flight to the Bham.

All are sleepy and the pilot announces that we will have a 35 minute delay to take some gas OUT of the plane ? Are you kidding me ? Apparently, if there is too much gas in the plane you cannot land in Bham because of the weight. It is a good thing that I didn't have ice cream or we would have been longer. One hour later we are on the way to Bham. (Reminder: Birmingham is a two hour drive). Christian begans to cry on the plane and I have to replace the man sitting in the aisle to figure out the problem. That man was very generous to give up his seat. I talk to him and cannot figure out the problem. After a few minutes, I hold him and he indicates that he has to pee. We go to the bathroom and the crying stops. It is a bad feeling not knowing what is wrong with the children because of language.

We get off of the plane and began to walk the corridor to see our immediate family. This is very surreal and exciting. The first person I see is my brother Jeff. I almost felt like crying knowing that he and Jordan wanted to be there. It is over an hour to their home in Locust Fork and it is midnight. He is a great, brother, father to three wonderful girls, and man. I love him and his entire family. Then we see all of the grandparents. Honey and Big Lee were instrumental in getting the house set up and the rooms done for the kids. Grandmother and grandmother Fred (not a typo, long story for another blog) also helped in a big way and continue to do things for us. It was great to see them all. Amanda and I love you more than words can say and know that you will get as much joy as we will from your new granchildren. P - A friend indeed.

After getting our luggage, we are off to the house. You never quite realize how much you love home until you go away for 6 or 7 weeks. We pull up in front of the house and there sits a car. It is James Willis, a young man that attends Spain Park and will play at Miss. College. Amanda and I love this boy and are very proud of the strides that he has made. James, we hope you are always in our life and will always be welcome in our home. We love you. Mr. B thanks for telling him.

Out in front is a sign welcoming the Hood's home. Kenny and Tresha, we love the sign and the help. The house looked great. We arrive inside and the kids go nuts. There are clothes, video tapes, and toys in the front room from the people at OMHS. Thanks to you all. Melissa - your generosity and leadership and appreciated. We then go upstairs and see the beautiful new rooms. All of you that helped with this, we thank you from the bottom of our heart. Aunt Deb, Jimmy, and Jenny - we are blown away by your gift of time, energy, and effort in painting, decorating, and hanging fans. You guys are awesoe. I do hope we see you more often. I do not recall every one that helped, but please know that we are grateful.

To the kitchen and there is evidence that Martha Wall has been there. Food everywhere. You are special to our family. We love you. Thank you to all that contributed to filling the cupboars. What a blessing. Randolph and board - true friends.

The kids are on overload with the toys, clothes and new rooms. The grandparents are immediately whipped. Playing and laughing with the kids. Watching Olivia model all of her clothes and smile were worth it all. Especially for her. She hasn't laughed until we got home. Now she is happy. Big Lee - Vica had you in five minutes. Christian loves his microphone and toy gun. The grandmothers were loved by all. It was a beautiful thing to see. Fred, JD, Wanda and Lee - you have made a difference in their lives already. We are blessed to have you as parents.

I go outside on the deck and some of my trees are gone and the back yard is raked. On the tree is a sign that says, "Welcome Home - From your new Big Brothers at OMHS - Coming Soon" On the sign is a picture of a playset that is being installed. Being a Head football coach is a complicated job. You are never really sure how much your players and parents care for you and your family. My players have shown my family and I incredible support and love. OMHS football players - I Love you and you have shown to be the best kind of men - warriors with heart. I am proud to be your coach. To the football parents - your prayers, e-mails, and kindness have helped us make it through. Ken and Michelle - you have big hearts, it was good to see you again and we tahnk you. Kathy, we were kept up to date with your and the others families acts of kindness. God bless you. Parents -thank you for allowing me the chance to coach your children.

We have now trying to settle in our home routine. The kids are smiling and playing. All of you have helped make a life for these four wonderful children. Vica and Daniel love the bubble bath. Olivia and Christian had a great time at practice.

We must go for now. Amanda is making breakfast and the kids are starting to play. The house seems so full of noise and energy. They all have on their pajamas and will soon have a FAMILY breakfast. God is Cool ! Got to go someone just called for PAPA. "I saw God Today"


PS. I missed most of you that helped and supported. Please know that we thank you and love you all. Until...............

Thursday, April 24, 2008

So Far, So Good...

Well- All I can say is that we are still standing! We picked up the children on the afternoon of the 22nd and are now in Kiev waiting on our visas. Once we get them, we will be heading home!! The kids are very excited about EVERYTHING! Overstimulated is an understatement. In reality, they have been doing great. They have made the most of difficult situations- driving for 10 hours in a Camry with 7 people, not eating on regular schedules, no naps, car sickness, and the list goes on and on. They are getting used to us and we are getting used to them, but it has been very good. We could not have asked for much more!

Now that the children are officially "ours", we feel a little more confortable sharing some personal insight about them. We were lucky enough to adopt 4 children, 2 boys and 2 girls. Olivia Hope is is almost 9, Christian Ruslan is almost 8, Daniel Jackson is 4, and Victoria Faith is 3. They are all wonderful and have VERY strong personalities. Each of them is very different in their own ways. Olivia and Christian did an outstanding job in their performance on the 21st. I just cried and cried as they performed. All of their friends each stood up at the end and spoke to us as a family. They talked about how important a family is and how it is a special gift. It was one of the toughest things that I have ever sat through. Even our translator was crying!

Olivia is not so sure about me yet. She loves her papa!! She wants Jerry to help her do everything. She has been the one taking care of the other 3, and she can't quite figure out how she feels about me interrupting that. There are moments when she gets to just be a kid, like everyone else, and that is exactly the way we want it! She is very helpful with the two little ones. Christian is all boy, and can be very silly at times. We will blame that on the age! He loves to jump around, move, and play pretend karate! He is also very technology savy. It doesn't take him long to figure anything out. These two have that most challenging road ahead. They will have to work on their English, and break some habits that have been with them for years. They are good kids and are smart of enough to know what they are going to have to do. (They are not thrilled about having to learn another language to be able to talk to their parents!) The language barrier was probably my biggest underestimation. The kids get very frustrated when you don't understand them and we find ourselves getting frustrated when they don't understand why we are telling them to stop doing something. It is a true challenge and we have created signs that we use when we talk. Jerry and I have also learned a lot of Russian in the past 3 days!!

The Daniel and Victoria are great! Daniel is small for his age but is so much fun. He is very loveable in the mornings. He will tell you that he loves you and he will tell everyone when we has to go to the bathroom! He can also cry louder than anyone I have every heard. He also inconsolable. It is usually over having to go to bed, not being able to turn the lights on and off again, etc. You get the point.... He loves taking baths and that has been a huge relief for me. This was something that Daniel or Victoria had not experienced much because they had been in the orphanage most of their young life. Victoria is a MESS! She is going to be the type of girl that will steal your heart and then stomp on it! She is tough and doesn't take anything off of anyone. Baths with her have been another issue. That is an area that we are working on!! She did much better today, thank goodness. When you ask her for a kiss, she simply sticks out her cheek for you to kiss her. She is very used to being kissed by everyone at the orphanage. She has the type of cheeks that you just want to touch! Her favorite thing today was wearing Jerry's tennis shoes around the apartment. She was hysterical!

We did take the children to McDonald's today. The loved it, of course! This was the first time that I realized that we are an oddity. When we walked into McD's, everyone began staring because we had so many children. We even had people come over to talk to us about them. The children loved the french fries and the sweet and sour sauce that comes with the Chicken McNuggets. The happy meal toys were also a huge hit! Everyone wanted to keep their box, so we marched all of them out in line carrying the happy meal box with their toy in it. It made their day!!

We are glad to be back in Kiev. It feels that a semi-home. We are at least familiar with the streets and where everything is. We are hoping to get the chiildren out in the next couple of days to go see the sights before we leave!

Thank you for all of the prayers! We feel that each of you has played a part in our journey and we hope that you continue to do so. The children in the orphanage that we visited where wonderful, and Jerry and I have picked out several that we would like for people to adopt!!! They were all so precious! They deserve good homes and happy families. Thank you again for you support and interest in our journey. This is truly a life-changing experience in every way!


Monday, April 21, 2008


April 22nd will be GOTCHA Day for the Hood family! We will celebrate it every year just like another birthday. This will be a special day for our family so, please keep us in your prayers tomorrow for the 1st annual celebration!

For our first day of celebration, we will be traveling to the captial of the region where we will apply for passports. (sounds liek fun huh?!?!) We have received some positive news about the process so keep praying!! We are hoping to travel to Kiev late tomorrow and Wednesday. Once there, we will be in a mad rush (with 4 kids) to get our embassy paperwork done and visas in hand. We can then book a flight and as the children say, "Fly to America!!!"

Our internet at our apartment is down, so the next couple of days will be scarce postings. Once we get to Kiev, we will be able to communicate with all of you again!! Please pray for safe journeys, no car sickness, and LOTS of patience!!

We are on our way to the orphanage, for the last time, to see #1 and #2 perform. They are so excited! We practiced yesterday afternoon and we all had to bow and courtsey. We had a lot of fun. It should be a very special event for us. Performances are usually held when an older child is adopted. We just dropped of our first snack for our children's friends, apples and bananas. Believe it or not, they will love them!

We are in constant prayer about what is coming next. If all goes well, we shoud be home very soon. We have been very hesitant to post pictures and the children's names until the 10 day waiting period is over. As soon as we can, we will be glad to share that with you. They all love their new names and, appropriately, Hood is the word they spelled with no help!

Thank you for the comments and please keep us in your thoughts as we begin the first steps of our journey HOME!!

Love from Mama Hood,