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!


  1. Dear Kerry
    How do you remember to jot down all the details of the day? Is this required of all hosting families?
    I wish the chaperon had filled you in more about her life at the orphanage and explained to you that these children are forced to grow up before their time. Also her food preferences are very natural. Looking out for the younger ones is expected of them especially the girls.
    Over the years friends of mine have hosted children from Latvia (who spoke latvian) which of course made them more confident and trusting.
    In fact when my family was in DP camp (displaced persons )in Germany after the war the photo of her at the stove reminded me of when I stood in line to make some pancakes at the communal kitchen's two burner hot plate. I think I was about 9/10.
    Don't worry too much about when she does not express the same enthusiasm about certain things that maybe your family does. Don't overwhelm her with material things. Do try to learn some russian just as much as she is trying to learn english. I remember myself unfortunately thinking that running around stores was more important. Try to introduce her to experiences that bypassed her earlier childhood. That is why going to the zoo was so important to her. The more children she meets and observes different lifestyles and cultures the more confident she will be about hers. She'll observe that not having a family with a mother and father is just as acceptable. In Latvia unfortunately a large percentage of the population do not embrace anything that is different. Be it religious beliefs, skin color or lifestyles. I hope you don't missunderstand my views and advice.
    Too bad you live so far. Would have enjoyed meeting her and exchange some russian phrases with her.
    My father spoke fluent russian and was very strict about me learning it too. Here in America speaking more than one language is foreign. In Europe its normal to know at least 3 languages in order to even get a job.
    Does she have the opportunity to write to her friends in russian on the internet?
    Well, enough said.
    Wish your family the best.
    Zigrida Dzenis (translation=woodpecker)
    New Jersey

  2. I blog about her because I want her to find a family, and because there are many people who are enjoying reading about what we do each day and about what she is like, and because I hope she can go back to this someday and remember the wonderful time she had with our family. No, the hosting organization does not require this, but they do require a weekly update.
    Her chaperon is not from her orphanage and each orphanage is different, so she is unable to tell us what life is like for her. I do not believe she takes care of the younger children because she was a little uncomfortable with our little ones at first. Now, she absolutely loves them and dotes on them. I actually did not expect her to display any form of enthusiam, or gratitude because we were taught that it is different, culturally. We are surprised that she does express enthusiam and is very grateful, and has excellent manners. She is picking up English very well and never fails to say please and thank you, which we never expected, or demanded.
    We definitely do not give her much when it comes to materialism because we do not have the money to do so. Her dream was to go shopping, and she needed some clothes, so we were happy to fulfill this dream through the donations of gift cards and money from friends. Still, she didn't receive a lot, but she was so happy with what she picked out. I have had sick kids for over a week, so we have had very little opportunity to get out of the house. I think she already knows what it is like to not have a mother and father, so I want her to know what it IS like.
    You should keep reading my blog because you will find out that I sit on the sofa with her and she teaches me Russian while I teach her English. She laughs at my attempts, which are quite comical at times!!! It is a great bonding time for us.
    No, we do not allow her to communicate with friends on the internet. We keep her off the internet except for a few games she enjoys playing. She is only here for five weeks, and she has already said she does not miss her friends. She also told me that the language barrier does not bother her. I guess LOVE is enough!
    We were told several things to expect, or to look for while hosting, but I have to say that she breaks the mold! She has been and absolute joy, and there is nothing about her I don't love! She is so deserving of a family, and would be a wonderful daughter.
    We also use google translate a lot to communicate with her. This has been a wonderful tool!
    Thank you for yor comment!

  3. Dear Kerry
    I truly appreciate you're taking the time and responding to my letter. I am retired now and know that taking care of two small children, especially when sick can be exhausting.
    So glad that Anastisija has fit in your family so well. You are correct to mention that it does matter from which orphanage she was picked to come and stay with you. Also I think girls are easier to bond with. I remember in the last 20 years that boys had more difficulty adjusting.

    When I mentioned about older kids looking out for the younger ones it was not meant as taking on the responsibilities beyond their capabilities.
    Even in DP camp the older girls at times acted like older sisters when I fell and scraped my knee etc. I'm sure you know how bad things are in Latvia and the orphanages are very short handed. Maybe thats why she was so reluctant in the beginning because its expected of her in small ways.
    Some of the children that were hosted by different families were easier to communicate with than others depending on their backrounds and how they came to the orphanges. When we gained the trust of one of these children it was the greatest reward we could possibly get.
    The families with the biggest hearts were usually of modest means Our NJ Latvian Association from the moment the borders opened after communism fell have been sending support in forms of clothing, books, toys etc. to organizations to be distributed to children and families in need.
    I am so happy your little girl is bringing so much joy to you. Hopefully there is a family out there that can give her the stability and love that she deserves.

    Take care and have a nice weekend


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