At the Kiev airport most everyone had their bags wrapped up with cellophane and duct tape. We asked our driver, who accompanied us inside the airport, what was going on--he said they do it for privacy. Hmm..I don't think TSA officials would would appreciate that!
The first leg of our trip took us from Kiev to Moscow. Ruslana was stoked on the airplane. She thought taking off and landing was the funnest thing. From Moscow to Los Angeles we each had our own TV, which was this techno girl's dream. They didn't have a Ukrainian language option, but it didn't seem to stop her enjoyment of the numerous choices of movies and games. So much so that she didn't sleep a wink on the entire trip home! She credited all the cool things--namely the TVs & airplane food--to Amer-eeka. We didn't have the heart to tell her we were actually on a Russian airline, so we took the credit for America.
With no weather delays, we landed in Los Angeles as scheduled. Ruslana landed as a "new immigrant," but walked out of the airport as its newest citizen!
By this point, her lack of sleep over the last 48 hours was starting to show and she was fading. Not exactly what we were hoping for because our immediate family rented a limo and were anxiously waiting to meet her at the airport.
This girl plays hard and sleeps hard--we knew when she did crash she would be out. And that moment just happened to be the second we got into the limo. As her eyes flickered opened and closed, we asked her, "are you tired?" She defiantly repeated, "no, no, no." Poor thing. Despite her fascination with everything outside the window, she was struggling so hard to keep her eyes open and ultimately she lost the fight.
When we pulled up to our house, we were greeted with a beautiful banner and balloons made by our family. Ruslana sleep-walked right past all the pomp, skipped the grand tour of the house, and climbed right into her new bed. Scarlett, our beloved dog, slept on Ruslana's bed all night waiting for her to wake up. It was the cutest thing!
We weren't sure how Ruslana would react to Scarlett, having never been around dogs before. Well, let's just say they became instant best friends. They LOVE each other and are inseparable. All day Ruslana says, "Sca-lett, come here please!" I am so happy and thankful that Ruslana has Scarlett to play with. There are no language barriers with those two!
At the crack of dawn (actually before, around 2am), she begged to go swimming in our pool, or as she calls it, the "bool." We were able to hold her off until about 8am. She had a blast swimming with Scarlett and lounging on the pool raft. Needless to say, the weather was a little different than what she was used to in Ukraine! Grandma (my mom) also stopped by and gave her a pair of sunglasses which she now totally rocks everywhere she goes.
Later in the afternoon we went for a walk around the neighborhood with Scarlett. She saw that papa had a hat on and said that she wanted one too. Here are the Dodger twinsies:
Ruslana loved walking around and would say with awe "Amer-eeka" anytime she saw something she liked. She also made sure to pet Scarlett the entire we time were walking. These two are in heaven together.
Considering that her world has just been turned upside down, she is doing remarkably well. We are, however, struggling with food. Unless its soup, fruit, or juice, she doesn't want to try much of anything. She puts her arms up in an X and says "NO!!" I don't want to push her too soon, but also don't want her to get into resistant habits. We're trying to get her to at least try something before she says she doesn't like it, but that's not an easy task. Another struggle we're having is finding the balance of appropriate discipline. In the orphanage we purposefully tried to make our time together full of fun and bonding. But now that we are home, we know it's time to lay down the law and start teaching her what we expect from her. She's been testing our boundaries and boy has she got her sad pouty face down! An example of her testing us happened yesterday when the teller at the bank gave her a lollipop. We told her she could have it later at home. And trust me, she knows what the word later means from us saying it so much. When we got in the car she discretely unwrapped the lollipop and plopped it in her mouth almost purposefully testing us. And having being tested all day long, we were not going to let our "later" become a "yes." So what did we do? Took that lollipop right out of her mouth and threw it out the window! Ha! Whether is was a right tactic or not, hopefully now she knows that when we say something, we mean it.
After our high parenting moment over the lollipop, we went to lunch at Chick-Fil-A. We ordered her a fruit cup and grilled chicken nuggets. It took a long time and much convincing, but she did end up eating her chicken nuggets, which I was very happy about because she needs the protein. She chewed each bite about a million times and her mouth ended up being full of chewed chicken. We told her in the translator to swallow, and she replied "I like to chew my food then swallow." Ha! Good thinking girl--just swallow before you look like a chipmunk! After she finished her meal she played in the indoor playground and had the time of her life. I felt bad for the other kids though...in true Ukrainian form, she doesn't believe in lines and order. The slide that you're supposed to go down on? She went up it. The kids waiting in line to go down it? Move it or loose it! We'll have to give her a politeness talk later. But for the time being she loved playing and having her mama and papa watch her. She waved at us, beaming, each and every time she did a lap around the playground.
Another highlight over the past few days was Ruslana receiving a handmade blanket made by grandma (Mark's mom). She likes it so much that she took her comforter off of her bed and just sleeps with the blanket now. It was such a thoughtful gift and we all love it! I know it will be one of her prized possessions.
Several people have asked me if I plan on continuing to blog now that the adoption process is over. I've decided that for now I will. So many people have graciously invested their time, money, and prayers into our adoption, and now is the time for you to see the blessings that have resulted from your help. We wouldn't be here without you and for that we will be eternally thankful!