Thursday, April 25, 2013

Catching Up

Over the past two weeks, Ruslana has...

Met some awesome people.  Including the Reed family (of Smiles and Trials), Uncle Tom, Aunt Jane, cousin Ryan, and Aunt Jacqueline.
Jumping with a few of the of her new favorite things
Eating with Uncle Tom and Grandmother
Playing with Aunt Jacqueline
Played at Chuck E. Cheese after a half day at school:

Celebrated grandmothers birthday by gifting her a paper airplane with their photo and a chatter box (guess those gems are universal).  She also made her a video:
and had fun at the doctors office: 

We've had some high points:
  • During math at school she raised her hand and answered the question (in English) correctly!  The class clapped for her :) I'm so proud of her, not only for knowing the answer, but for being brave enough to raise her hand.  I was personally encouraged knowing that some of our math time paid off. 
  • She started attending BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) and has been able to work on the last two lessons. She has also memorized a memory verse. 
  • Food is getting easier.  She's been more willing to try new things and has even started to like them! She recently saw a bag of marshmallows in the pantry and asked if she could have one.  Of all things to try, a marshmallow?? Well she had one and now she loves them. So random! 
  • Her English vocabulary is growing at a rapid pace. 

And some low points:
  • We went to the dentist.  We knew her teeth were in bad shape, as the orphanage didn't even have toothpaste, but they were worse than we hoped. She has 9 cavities--5 permanent and 4 baby teeth.  The dentist plans on filling the cavities two at a time.  Hopefully using an electric toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, and mouthwash will prevent any further damage. 
  • There's been some defiance issues at home and at school, as well as not wanting to share with the other kids.  
  • We've had to talk to her about her attitude and disobedience on several occasions.  She is really not fond of the times outs that follow.  She is starting to learn though that bad behavior has consequences, and we've seen improvement. 
Helpful tips I've learned along the way: 
  • A timer has been extremely helpful.  I use one when she brushes her teeth, uses mouthwash, engages in certain activities, and occasionally at mealtimes.  Seeing a countdown keeps her motivated and allows me to avoid repeatedly saying "keep going" or "times up." 
  • Food temperature.  She doesn't like things very hot or very cold.  I'm guessing she isn't used to hot food because I imagine that by the time all of the children were served food in the orphanage it was most likely room temperature.  I also imagine that things were never served very cold since they don't use ice in Ukraine.  By me serving things not too hot or cold, it's eliminated part of the food struggle. 
  • Food familiarity.  I've found that if I have something familiar on the table (often I'll just do a bowl of tomatoes, cucumbers, and pickles) she is more open to trying something new.  I've been trying to compromise and not press too hard in the food department and it seems to be helping. 
  • Meeting people, especially in groups, is extremely overwhelming for Ruslana.  If she meets you and stares, please don't take it personally!  We've been practicing what to say at home, so hopefully this will translate into real life introductions.  
  • Consistency, patience, and discipline is key.  It's hard now, but hopefully it will pay off! 


  1. Reading about your adorable daughter and seeing the photos makes my day. I loved the small video clip and I am so thankful that she has you two for her parents. Reading about the highs and lows you are having is soooo familiar. As you said, consistency and patience is key. They came out of a very rigid and regemented setting where they had no choices and all of the ones they now face can be extremely overwhelming. Praying for your family as you guys continue to adjust. Just know you're not alone.

  2. You are doing such a great job!!! Being a parent is so difficult, but most of us start off with a non verbal, compliant infant. Starting off with an older child with a past has got to be overwhelming. I'm so glad to hear you have the Reed family for support. I follow their blog and was wondering if you had someone to advise you if the need arises. Keep up the great work! Ruslana is truly a beautiful girl :)