Thursday, April 4, 2013

Belated Birthday

Yesterday was my birthday.  I started the day off by doing what any young and crazy 25 year old does to celebrate...I toured the local elementary school.  Mark and I were both very impressed with the facilities and the available English learning tools.  The school offers a computer software program called "English in a Flash" (similar to Rosetta Stone), as well as an ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher that the English-learning students see in a 3:1 ratio.  The principal told us that there is a little girl in the program who speaks Russian, which we are happy about.  Although Ukrainian and Russian aren't the same language, hopefully there will be enough similarity that they can still communicate.

While we had initially thought we would keep Ruslana at home for awhile and home school, we decided that at this point she would do best in a school setting.  For one, she is used to going to school in Ukraine.  She seems to thrive and be more comfortable in a structured environment.  Second, she is used to being around other kids all the time.  While she likes being around us and Scarlett, I think she is missing the social interaction that she has grown accustom to.  Third, I think she'll learn English quicker by utilizing the ESL tools at school and having a teacher trained to help her learn the language.  Because there's only about eight weeks left of the school year, we figure we can use this time as a trial period and reevaluate after that.

After we toured the elementary school we went and got pedicures.  I've been saving a gift card since Christmas and I decided that now was the perfect time to use it.  She picked yellow for her toenail polish.  Not the color I'd choose, but to each his own.  She didn't seem to show a lot of emotion during the pedicure:
but she did like her nail color:
Later in the evening we went out to dinner to Benihana with my mom and sister. I thought that she'd enjoy the chefs cooking at the table and have a lot of fun, but she seemed really tired.  Going out to eat has been somewhat of a stresser because she is having such a hard time adapting to new foods.  She takes about 10 minutes to chew one bite (despite us continuously telling her to swallow) and loves telling us "NO" to trying new foods.  During dinner we told her that if she ate a small section of her food she could have ice cream.  Well, she was having a diva moment and decided that she wasn't even going to take one bite of it.  So, she ended up with no ice cream.  We felt bad that she missed out on a special treat, but we are striving to be consistent and not go back on our word.
It was a great birthday spent at home with my family and new daughter. I am so thankful and blessed. 

However, I'm not going to lie, this week has been difficult and trying.  The transition hasn't been easy. Ruslana is testing us constantly. Today I told her she couldn't get in the pool and to spite me she jumped in the pool fully clothed--including her tennis shoes.  She's had meltdowns where she cries, screams, kicks, and hits.  Meal times are a struggle.  She doesn't always see the need to obey us. Yesterday she took the keys out of the car's ignition while Mark was driving and then threw papers out the window.  Things aren't perfect.  But going from an orphanage setting to a home setting is one that will take time, love, and patience. I just need to remind myself that it won't happen overnight. 

But as with most things in life, the low points are followed by high points.  Take for instance the notes she put around the house this afternoon expressing her love (or "lofe" as she wrote) for her mama, papa, and relatives:
Or the fun time we had playing on the playground: 
Or the darling poses she makes: 
High and low, we love this girl! 


  1. There is a book called "Beyond Consequences, Logic, and Control" which we have found amazingly helpful for our adopted children. It will help you understand her orphanage behavior, and help you know the best way to parent her.
    Another really helpful book is called "The Connected Child" by Karyn Purvis. She talks about a concept called a "do over" which is also super useful.

  2. Congratulations! She is just adorable!
    We have adopted 4 girls from America, Ukraine, Ukraine and Russia.
    It is very scary for them coming home and trying so many things so soon.
    You want to let them do so much, but sometimes it can backfire and turn into a meltdown situation because of the stimulation they are not used to.

    I remember staying 5 weeks in Ukraine and craving home, craving English, and wanting tortilla chips. :)
    With our girls we gave them comfort foods like borscht and it brought such joy to them to have a simple borscht and bread meal. :)
    They were then much more willing to try new foods.

    The two books mentioned above are fantastic. Also, Heather Forbes has a site that you can sign up for called "Daily parenting reflections" get an encouragement each day in your email for free! :)

    Our girls have been home now for 9, 8, 7 and 2 years and they are 14,14, 13, and 13. :)

    Congratulations once again! I thought the yellow looked pretty cool! LOL

  3. Happy Birthday Mrs. Jackson!! I'm glad that you guys had a lot of fun. I did yellow for my nails the last time I went to get them done! Ruslana has good taste ha ha. That's good that there is another girl who can speak Russian. She is a darling!

  4. So blessed to find your blog! We adopted an older child from Russia almost two years ago. That child and I are taking a missions trip to Ukraine in August! :) I can sooo relate to everything you posted, and I assure you, in time, it gets better! Congrats!