Wednesday, June 30, 2010

It has only been 5 days...




...but it seems like she has been with us a few weeks. Nastia has settled in very well, and I thought I would try to have structure to our day for at least the first week, but it just hasn't happened the past few days. Two of my little guys woke up sick this morning, so I had to take them both to the doctor. When I got home everyone was cleaning up the house, including Nastia, and two of Roger's nephews were outside mowing our lawn. Thank you so much Travis, and Ethan!!! The kids ended up spending most of the day outside.
Meals: We had leftover pancakes for breakfast, and Nastia ate two, once again. For lunch she must have been hungry and it must have been somewhat familiar because she ate it so fast! She had a ham sandwich with Mayo, cantaloupe, grapes, string cheese, and chips. Grandma went and bought everyone Icee's after lunch! For dinner we had tacos. She ate one, but when I asked on Google Translate if she liked it she said no. I'm so proud of her for trying things that aren't "normal" to her! So, she ate a banana, and some yogurt.
Nastia, Lauren and I made brownies this afternoon, so we got to enjoy those this evening. I asked her if she wanted to lick the bowl and she said no, so I put my finger in, got a little bit and licked it off. Then I offered the bowl to her and she dug in! I think this was her first experience "licking the bowl!"
We also called Nastia's chaperon this afternoon. They had a chance to chat, and she said Nastia seems fine and happy. She asked how Nastia's behavior has been and I told her what a good girl Nastia is, and how happy we are to have her. She asked Nastia if she needed anything, or if she wanted to tell us anything and we heard what we have heard a few times...she wants to go to the zoo!!! It's almost as though she is saying, "Hurry up already!!! Take me to the zoo!" I told her we would go next week!
She had a lot of fun riding a scooter tonight. She had no fear!!! I have asked her for a few days if she wanted to ride, but she has always said no. I was shocked to see her speeding down the sidewalk when I went outside tonight. She loves to push Ian in the stroller, too. She did this yesterday when we went shopping, and decided she wanted to push him outside today, too. Very sweet!
After her shower tonight we worked on English. She can read things in English, but it would kind of be like me reading things in Russian, but having no idea what I am saying. There is a translation, so she can look at English and Russian. I was surprised when she knew all of her colors in English, and she can count to twenty in English, too. She said she has been taking English in school for two years, so this is all very new to her.
And then it was time for bright eyes, a beautiful smile, a kiss on the forehead and an "I love you." She is easy to love!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

How about some more pictures...and a video, too???



video
I had to take my baby, Ian, to the eye doctor today, so I brought my daughter, Lauren, and Nastia along with me. We were there an hour and a half, but the girls were so quiet and patient. When we were done we went to Panera for lunch. I ordered chicken noodle soup for Nastia, but she didn't care for it. She ate her bread, and drank her juice, but that was it. We stopped for a chocolate shake later and she loved it!!!
After lunch we fulfilled one of her dreams in life...to go shopping to choose clothes for herself! What a blessing to be able to do this for her?! She used a gift card from my friend, Angela, to Justice, and bought a shirt at Old Navy. This little girl loves BRIGHT colors!!! I'll get some pictures of her in her new clothes as time goes by. She told us last night on Google Translate that she would like some sunglasses. Check out the picture above! I couldn't help, but laugh as she tried every...single...pair...numerous times! After about 20 minutes I told her to choose one, but she didn't choose any! Very typical girl! Love it! She also can't walk by a mirror without checking out her hair! She isn't vain...just girly!
I also bought her a paint-by-numbers picture. She loves it! No English needed! I think we'll be buying a few more of those in the next few weeks. She is very particular to detail and tries her hardest. I'm excited to see the finished product! I'll post a picture when it is done.
We had fruit for dinner. She ate grapes, cantaloupe, apples (prefers red!), carrots (yes, I know it is a vegetable, not fruit! lol), and cinnamon bread. She ate...and ate...and ate! I gave her some yogurt later this evening, too.
After dinner we went outside to play. I offered to let her ride Lauren's bike, and she gladly accepted. She didn't want to wear the helmet, but when I insisted she complied very easily.
The smile never left her face as she rode that bike!
And then it was time for a shower and time for bed again. She was tired tonight. I know she is not accustomed to taking a shower every night, but she is at the age where she needs it. As soon as she was out of the shower she got in bed, but left the door open...I think she was waiting for me. In our new, yet typical routine, she looked up at me with that beautiful smile on her face, I kissed her on the forehead, told her goodnight and "I love you" and looked at that beautiful smiling face once again. She is so deserving of a family!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Just what you've been waiting for...Pictures!!!




I think Nastia's favorite thing to do right now is word search puzzles. She and Lauren have spent a lot of time looking for words! Through Google Translate we found out that she doesn't care to watch movies, or TV...she would rather be outside. We also found out her favorite color is pink, her favorite juice is pineapple, she likes basketball, and she knows how to play chess.
Meals for today: She loved Cap N' Crunch and seemed to recognize it, she ate frosted cheerios for a snack, she loved her bologna, banana, juice, chips, and jello for lunch, and she didn't care for chicken and rice, or green beans for dinner (neither do my kids!).
We homeschool our children, and have chosen to do year-round school, so we can take breaks throughout the year, rather than one long break during the Summer. Nastia sat at the table and participated with us today. I could see her trying to sing the ABC's, and she was interested in what we were doing.
We played tag outside today and ended with another water war! She loved this. I was picking tomatoes in the garden and every now and then she would stop playing with the kids and come over and hang out with me. I have noticed that she will go play with the kids for a while, but she always gravitates back to me. She watches every move I make, including the way I treat my children. She may have never seen this kind of example before.
She is at the grocery store with Roger and Lauren right now. That may be a new experience for her, too.
I realize that we are still in the "honeymoon phase" of hosting and a lot could change in a few weeks, but I am quite smitten with this little girl. She has a sweet demeanor, she will help me do things without me even asking for help (clearing the table, helping to bring in groceries, etc), and she is so kind to all of the kids. She is really good with all of them. At this point, I think she would do well in a family with other children...younger, or older.
On a final note...look at how much she looks like my son, Miles (the Lego picture)! Whoa! Is it just me, or do they look like brother and sister???

Caring for orphans

The Bible tells us to care for orphans and in another post I will share these verses with you.

Not everyone can adopt. Sometimes there are physical limitations, sometimes there are age limitations, and often there are financial limitations. BUT, there is something that everyone can do for orphans. Here are some examples:
~Be a foster parent
~Help a foster parent--Provide a meal for the family, take a game and play with the kids, provide clothing
~Be willing to give money to help someone adopt
~Be encouraging to those who are trying to adopt
~Advocate for those who need a family--It's free and easy to advocate! Spread the word!
~If there is a children's home nearby...volunteer your time! Time is so important to these kids!
~If you have the ability to sew and would like to make quilts for orphans let me know!!!

Here are some ways that others have cared for Nastia...an orphan:
~31 people gave money to help bring her here!!! (a bunch of people giving a little can do a lot!)
~people have donated clothing
~some people knew it was her dream to go shopping and buy clothes for herself, so they sent gift cards to help us let her dream come true
~a few friends have even asked if they could go shopping with us to buy her a few things (they get the pleasure of fulfilling her dream and they get to spend time with her, too!)
~complete strangers have found out about Nastia through friends of mine and feel such a burden that they want to know how they can help advocate for her
~a complete stranger sitting next to me on the airplane gave me a wad of cash ($100!!!) as she was getting off because I had "inspired her to do more for orphans." Wow! I am honored.

I guess my point is...do something...at some point in your life...do something for an orphan! I realize that everyone has different passions, and mine happens to be orphans, but I think you may be surprised how blessed you will feel when you help one of "the least of these." And just think of the blessing you will be giving that child, as well.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Giggles are a Universal language

I wanted to allow Nastia to sleep as long as possible today. Sadly, our little ones were up at the crack of dawn, and it is difficult to keep everyone silent...they are children, ya know?! We left her in her room, but breakfast was ready and we weren't sure if she was waiting for permission to come out, or if she was tired, or if she just needed a few more moments of peace without everyone bombarding her, and Miles hugging her. I told Lauren to open her door and check on her, but to leave her alone if she was still sleeping. Well, she was awake, so Lauren told her she could come out. We have pancakes on Sunday mornings, and I wasn't sure if she would like them, but she ate TWO! And she drank some water and milk!

Ian woke up with a fever again, so I stayed home from church with him, but decided to keep Nastia and Lauren home, too. After some medicine Ian was doing a little better, so we went shopping. Not big time shopping, but out for a few things. She had a gift card for Target from my sweet friend, Angela. She got a purse to carry her translation book in (it will go with us everywhere!), a necklace, a pair of shorts, and the cutest pair of casual sneakers. Then, we went to Marshall's to get her some really nice sneakers.

For lunch we had chicken (not too sure she liked it), potato wedges (she LOVED these!), jello (seemed to like it), and bread. Another meal accomplished! Have I shared my concern about getting her here and being so worried about her not eating??? This hasn't been a struggle...well, at least not until this evening. We had our VBS program at church (she may think churches in America are insane after tonight!), and then a spaghetti dinner afterwards with salad. She would not even touch her plate. That's okay! It must have looked really disgusting to her. So, when we got home she had a banana, a piece of cinnamon bread, and yogurt.

This afternoon she and I sat on the sofa and went through my Russian Phrases for Children book. She got a good laugh at me trying to repeat Russian! Hey, it's bonding, so I'll take it!

She and Lauren were in the bedroom today giggling. I let them giggle for a while, but had no idea what they were doing, so I went to check on them. I learned that giggles are a universal language amongst little girls. They were tickling each other, and trying to talk to each other, and acting downright silly. It was an awesome sound to hear these little girls giggling!

Tonight we were able to talk to my cousin who speaks Russian. That was a blessing!!! We were able to ask her a few questions, and let her know how happy we are that she is here.

And then it was bedtime again... I covered her up, kissed her goodnight on the forehead, and put my hands on her cheeks and told her "goodnight" in Russian. Once again, her face completely lit up, and she lay there with the biggest, brightest most beautiful smile. That may be her favorite part of the day! It certainly is one of mine! I love that smile!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Anastasija is in America!!!!

I would love to say that my trip to pick up Anastasija, or the past week for that matter, was uneventful, but that would be untrue! I won't go into the details right now because I know that all everyone really wants is to see a picture and a story about Anastasija, so here you go!!!
My flight was delayed last night, so I arrived after Anastasija, but she was still at her gate waiting for another group to arrive, so I headed over to meet her. She is smaller than I expected. She is very thin, and petite. She was polite, but shy. She quickly ran to a friend of hers for a quick hug when her friend arrived. Her chaperon told me she was very tired and tried to translate a few things for me. We then left the terminal to meet up with the other parents who were eagerly awaiting their host children's arrival. It was after midnight at this point.
Do you remember "Liga" from a few posts back? I got to meet her last night!!!
We finished up a few last details, talked to an interpreter who told her we would be sleeping in a hotel for the night and then flying home tomorrow. I also asked what she preferred to be called, which from now on she will be referred to as Nastia (NAW-stee-uh), and then we caught a bus to our hotel. I showed her the new pj's and her new outfit for the following day, and then showed her to the shower. She had been traveling for a long time and needed refreshed. She took a loooong shower! :-) We both got to bed at 1:30, and I think she fell asleep very quickly.
I woke her up at 5:15 this morning, so she could get dressed and we could catch a bus back to the airport. She woke up with a great attitude and ready to start the day. She was still very quiet, though.
We got to the airport, checked in and went to security. Problem...I was told that I could not hand them her ticket...it had to come from her...and then they asked her what her name was...I said, "She doesn't speak English."...they said, "then ask her in her native language."...I say, "I don't know how"...they say, "So, you are traveling with a child who doesn't belong to you and doesn't even speak your language??? *insert snarled face here** HMPHH!"...I say, "Well, yes. She is here for a hosting program."...*insert snarled face again here* and they say, "hmmm, okay," and let us go. Hmmmm....if there was that much concern, should they have really let us go without investigating more? Anyway, I was just happy to get through and go to our plane.
We stopped at Starbucks for bottled water and a choice of muffins...she chose chocolate, of course, and then we waited for our plane to board. I had asked her a few times if she was hungry or thirsty, but she always said no. I think she was a little of both when she finished her muffin in record time and half of her bottle of water!
We left Atlanta and landed in Fort Lauderdale, where my wonderful friend, Jennifer Burk, and her husband and two adorable little boys (the ones in the second picture) met us and bought us pizza and a drink. Nastia ate and drank very well and then we went to the roof of the parking garage to watch the planes take off and land for a while. Nastia loved this!!! Nastia, and Jennifer's 3 year old had a tickle attack for a while, and it was so much fun to see this side of her! After we said our goodbyes we went through security again (no problem this time), and went to board our last plane. I felt that Nastia was disappointed when we landed in Ft. Lauderdale and I told her it wasn't home. She didn't seem very happy for a while. She was SO excited to get on our last flight, and even more excited that she got a window seat!!! She sat and watched the planes take off and land as we waited for our turn on the runway. She kept tapping my leg and pointing out the window. She was starting to get comfortable with me. We had the BEST time on the way to Orlando. She got out her Russian translation book and began writing sentences to me...in English! I was so proud of her! She let me know she does not know how to swim, she is afraid of the water, and she is afraid of drowning. Good to know! She also told me she would like to go to the zoo. Good to know! We went back and forth looking through her book and asking questions. It was so great to start to get to know her!
Roger, and everyone, but Franklin came to pick up us from the airport. Miles talked and talked to her on the way home, and she just sat and nodded and smiled. She had no idea what he was saying. She and Lauren would glance at each other often and smile. We got home, got settled in, ate Chicken Noodle soup and grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner (she loved both! Yeah!), and then went outside to play. I wanted her to feel comfortable with us and to realize that we are a loving family who wants to love her and have fun with her...so...I grabbed Ari's water bottle and started squirting my kids. Nastia thought it was so funny! And then I squirted her!!! She squealed and jumped up and started running and laughing! HUGE moment for us! I ended up getting water bottles for everyone and we were all soaked! We came inside and got showers and pj's on and settled in for the night. I got out my nail polish and let her choose what color/s she would like. She chose purple and blue and she and Lauren painted every other finger nail purple or blue. We decided to paint toenails, too, so I asked Lauren to let me paint hers, so maybe Nastia would be more comfortable. When I was finished with Lauren, Nastia wanted nothing more than for me to paint hers, as well. Another great bonding moment!
I was cuddling with Lauren and Franklin on the sofa and scratching Lauren's back. When I stopped Nastia reached over and scratched Lauren's back a little. It was very endearing. I could tell she was watching me cuddle with my kids, and I will give her some time to get comfortable, but I look forward to letting her feel what it is like to know the cuddle of a mother's arms. I noticed Nastia staring and watching families interact in the airport all day. She is very curious. I think she knows she is missing out on something special.
Shortly after 8:00 I told her it was time for bed with the help of my Russian Phrases for Children handbook, tucked her in, kissed her on the forehead, put my hands on her cheeks and told her goodnight. She had the most wonderful smile on her face! A wonderful end to our first day of hosting!!!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Big day tomorrow!!!

I will be flying to Atlanta tomorrow to pick up Anastasija!!! I will not have access to a computer until I get home Saturday afternoon, so you will have to wait on pictures! Sorry! I'll post as soon as I get a chance.
She is probably on an airplane at this very moment!

Next post: "Anastasija is in America!!!"

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Thank you!

I want to thank each person, publicly, who has given money to help us bring Anastasija here. I won't name each person by name because I don't have permission from everyone. I don't believe these friends know how important they are in what God can do with Anastasija's future because they sacrificed, so that she could come here with our hope of finding a family for her.
We are so grateful for each of you!

We are also grateful to those of you who have sent her gift cards, and clothes, and money for clothes. She is going to be so blessed!

We trust that God will bless those who have blessed us...and ultimately a little girl who none of us knows, but who deserves to be part of a loving family.

From the bottom of my heart...thank you!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

God made a way!

We were really torn about how we were going to pick up Anastasija in Atlanta. It is cheaper to drive, but that also means we have to find someone to spend the night with our children Friday night, and then someone to take care of them all day on Saturday. Overall, it is easier for me to fly and pick her up and come back home with her. At the point that Roger decided that flying was a good idea the flights went up to around $400, and some were more than that! Yikes! I kept checking and finally got a really good deal. The time I arrive in Atlanta isn't ideal, and I have a long layover before I get there, and then we will only get a few hours of sleep before we have to be back at the airport to fly home, and then have another layover (but we'll have the chance to get some lunch!), but I will have spent less time away from my children by flying to get her. I can't wait to see her face for the first time!!!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

An invaluable resource

I found a book online that would be an excellent teaching resource for Anastasija. One of the things we will be doing each day is teaching her English. This will be very helpful for whether she becomes part of an American family, or even if she stays in her own country. The book I found has 750 words that are translated in Russian and English, so we can teach her.

I have had many people ask what they can do or buy for Anastasija and this would be an excellent purchase. You can find it here: http://www.languagelizard.com/ The name of the book is My Talking Dictionary. It comes with a book and cd rom.

Other books that would be fun for her to read while she is here are Anne of Green Gables, Pollyanna, or Because of Winn Dixie written in Russian. You can find them here: http://www.adoptedfromrussia.com/
We will be purchasing a book with Russian phrases that will help us with daily routine...and will teach us how to say, "Goodnight, I love you." Very important!!!

If anyone wants to purchase any of these books please leave a comment, so others know what books she will be receiving and she won't receive duplicates. Thank you!!!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

1075!!!!

That's how many times Anastasija's blog has been visited!!!! That means that she has been thought of at least 1075 times!!! Let's turn those thoughts into prayers that God would provide a family for her!!! PLEASE SHARE THIS BLOG WITH EVERYONE YOU KNOW!!!! Do it for a sweet little blonde-headed, green-eyed girl who needs a family!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Letting go of expectations

For the most part...expectations are not good! It sets us up for failure. When things don't go the way we "expect," it can be hard to change course...especially with a good attitude.

I had complete expectations of what it would be like meeting Anastasija at the airport. I had expectations of taking her back to the airport. None of that is going to happen.

It's really okay, though. Like I said in my last post it is a "bump in the road." Anastasija will get here...one way or another...and we will advocate with everything we have to find a family who will work toward making her a part of their family.

So, the plan at the moment is to drive to Atlanta, meet her at the airport around midnight on June 25th, stay with a friend, or family member, or in a hotel, and drive home Saturday. I will be going with Roger, along with a few of our kids, and then we will find a family (or grandparents) to stay with the rest of our crew until we get home. See? It will work out. She will come. Somehow. And I am doing my best to let go of expectations. And just so you know...I don't have a bad attitude. I learned a long time ago that plans are often written in sand, not in stone. It is what it is.

Monday, June 7, 2010

A bump in the Road

I'm not surprised that we have hit a bump in the road, but rather a little frustrated and inconvenienced. I had great expectations/dreams of driving to Orlando to pick up Anastasija with pink and white roses, a big welcome sign, and a very excited family. It's not going to happen the way I imagined.
Anastasija is the only Latvian coming to Florida. The other kids are from Ukraine. The other kids are arriving early enough on Friday to catch a connecting flight to Orlando. Anastasija is not. Her flight will get in around midnight...in Atlanta. Ugghhh.... So, now we have to find a way to pick her up in Atlanta.
Options:
1) Fly to Atlanta and pick her up and fly back with her on Saturday. (too expensive)
2) Roger could drive to Atlanta, pick her up at midnight and drive straight back (too dangerous)
3) Roger could drive to Atlanta, pick her up, and stay in a hotel overnight (too scary for a little girl who is not accustomed to being around men, in a strange country, where no one can understand her)
4) Someone else could pick up her up from the Atlanta area and keep her overnight, possibly drive a few hours the following day and Roger (and Lauren) would meet them. (maybe???)

It's just a bump! We will find a way to make this work!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Our homestudy is tonight!

In order to bring Anastasija here we have to have a mini-homestudy. The social worker will talk to Roger and I, and all of the kids, and check out our house. She has to make sure we have a bed and dresser space for Anastasija. She will also make sure our home is a safe place.
I'm not worried about passing the homestudy, but I am a little nervous. It brings us one step closer to bringing Anastasija here...in 22 days!!!