Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Hosting Update Take Two

It makes me extremely happy to announce that Denis and Alyona have been hosted!!! This was made possible due to an extremely generous financial donation.  THANK YOU to the donor (an absolute saint) and the families who have opened up their homes! All six members of Ruslana's groupa are headed to California in just four short weeks and have families waiting to love on them.  I couldn't be more excited for them!  We plan on meeting the children at the airport so Ruslana can see them.  I can't wait to see their reactions being reunited on American soil!

God's Waiting Children, the organization that is bringing the children over, still has four older boys, from an orphanage just outside of Ruslana's hometown of Cherkasy, that are looking for host families.  Mark and I were able to visit them during their hosting interviews, and these are great kids. Please share the information below with any family that may be interested in hosting them.  They are running out of time :(
Max--age 14:
Future scientist!  Although he wants to become a chef and own his own restaurant, we think he has even higher potential--maybe a futuristic restaurant based on chemical reactions!  Max is inquisitive, polite, and educated.  He is hoping his dream of coming to America this summer will come true.  He is a great boy and would be lots of fun to host over the summer. 
Alex "Sasha"--age 14:
Sasha is a very gifted at drawing.  He took first place in a drawing competition and has won a significant prize and even a laptop from the Minister of Military in Ukraine.  He is humble, shy, and doesn't like to brag.  He dreams of joining a family with older siblings.  He is a very diligent student in all subjects.  In his free time he likes to read.   His dream is to visit the USA, specifically a museum and an amusement park.  He'd also like to learn how to ride a bike and visit the circus.  Any family who hosts Sasha will be blessed by the experience.
Valeriy--age 13:
Valeriy is a very clever and inquisitive boy.  He'd love to help around the house and likes the countryside.  He said he could help with everything, apart from milking a cow, but if they showed him how, he'd do it! He'd love to visit Disneyland and the beach.  He'd also like to learn to ride a scooter.  When asked what he'd like as a present, he said that he would like parents.  He likes to read books, watch cartoons, and play with friends. He's a very cheerful, friendly, and positive kid.  He will truly bless his host family.
Vlad--age 15:
Vlad is a sporty guy!  He likes outdoor activities, especially soccer.  His speech is very good and he articulates well.   His dream is to be educated, have a home, and a good life.  He's a very good student and a great helper to the adults. He also likes little children, especially hiking and swimming with them.  He said the only thing he doesn't like to do is the hair of little girls (haha). He'd like a soccer uniform as a present. This is his last opportunity to come for hosting before he turns 16. 
***There is a family interested in hosting Vlad, however they are trying to fundraise to see if they can get enough money together in time. If you're interested in donating towards Vlad's hosting fund, please let me know. 
For more information on the hosting program, read my previous blog here.

Contact Laurel Boylan at (559) 316-4823 or (866) 468-3089 or for any additional information. 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day

We had a wonderful time celebrating Father's Day.  It was Mark's first year celebrating as a proud papa.  We started the day off by showering him with a few gifts:
Ruslana LOVED the musical card she picked out for him.  
In addition to the card, he got sweet dinosaur planters, a Dodgers Yasiel Puig shirt,
and Ebay and iTunes giftcards. 
After Mark opened his gifts, his parents came over to our home for breakfast.  We had chorizo and eggs, tortillas, beans, and chips and salsa.  I'm not sure how many other families would eat beans and chips for breakfast, but, in true California form, it was delicious! :)

Next up we went and played miniature golf.  It was Ruslana's first time playing and we all had a lot of fun.
The two fathers tied for first place! 
She's such a cutie!
Ruslana, Papa, Mama & Baby brother (at 35 weeks)
R riding on a horse (thanks grandmother!)
In the evening, we went out to dinner with my dad and grandpa. We feasted on Mexican food (yes, again!) and had a lot of fun sitting outside experiencing the perfect ambiance and weather.
Ruslana and Papa walking to dinner
Ruslana sitting in President Taft's chair 
My grandpa "drinking" out of his new camera lens mug--he's awesome 
Right to Left: my sister Laura, Laura's boyfriend James, Mark,
Ruslana, my dad, me, and my grandpa
I am so thankful for all of the dads in my life.  I'm especially proud of how well Mark has eased into his fatherly role and been such a wonderful papa to Ruslana.  He's simply the best!
Cheers to all of the wonderful fathers out there!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Summer Time

Ruslana's a free woman--she had her final day of school last Thursday! I decided to set up a daily schedule for the summer because she does the best when she is busy and in a routine.  I'm attempting to use the time to continue bonding, increase her English skills, and work on math.  It's been a fun and challenging experience putting on my "teacher hat" and making out lesson plans.  So far we've done math workbooks, timed multiplication tests, Rosetta Stone, typing, reading books, spelling, and learning practical skills like cooking and cleaning.

In addition to essentially homeschooling, Ruslana started her swimming lessons and gymnastics this week.  I'll admit, I was slightly nervous about her taking swimming lessons.  While her orphanage had a "pool," she was only allowed to walk in the water and they told her she could only get water up to a certain point on her chest.  She followed these same rules in our pool at home and has had a few meltdowns when we tried to get her to swim or go deeper in the water.  Leading up to the swimming lessons, Ruslana kept telling us how hard swimming was.  I replied by telling her that it was easy, that babies swim, and that she'd be great at it.

Ruslana ended up doing great and after just her first lesson she told me that swimming was fun and easy!  She's looking forward to continuing the lessons and I'm looking forward to seeing her turn into a little fish!

Her first gymnastics class also went great.  She had a lot of fun tumbling, working on the bars, and standing up on the balance beam.  I think she looks so cute in her little leotard!  Man, what I'd do for her legs!
Ruslana and Grandmother

To top off our week, Ruslana is now cavity free! Bye bye are the days of having black teeth and 10 cavities.  She now has clean, white teeth to show off!
Showing off her dental treasures--a deck of cards, a sticker, and her pearly whites!
Having survived the first week of summer, I can't wait to see what the rest of it holds.  It's hard to believe that baby brother will be here in just 5 weeks (or if I'm lucky even sooner!).  Ruslana can't wait and neither can we!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Hosting Update

Summer hosting is quickly approaching and two children--Dennis and Alyona--from Ruslana's orphanage are still available. They are wonderful kids and it breaks my heart thinking that these two may be left behind when the rest of their groupa comes to America. Please spread the word about these two darlings and pray with an open heart if one of these children may be a perfect fit in your home this summer. They plan on arriving at LAX on July 13 or 14 and will be here until August 16. For more information on the hosting program, read my previous blog post here

Here's some information on the two children still looking for a host family:

Denis--Age 7:

Besides being cute, Denis is brilliant. He recites long poems from memory with passion & emotion. He also steals the show during orphanage recitals, as you can see in the video above. He is such a cute, sweet, and spirited boy. Denis dreams of having a pet turtle when he finally has a home.
Alyona--age 11: 
Alyona is doing hair in the center
Alyona is in the black shirt
Alyona does all the hair for the girls (she was one who cut Ruslana's hair!) in the orphanage. At 8 she won a local competition as "Youngest Best Hairdresser" in the region. She's a very clever, polite, and creative girl. All the other kids love and respect her as an older sister, and she assists the caregivers and helps her classmates with homework. Her dream is to become famous in the arts and have her own hair salon. She would love to come to the U.S. and visit Disneyland. This humble and sweet girl would be a lot of fun to host over the summer!
Please email me at if you have any further questions about Denis or Alyona. I'd love nothing more than to see them in America this summer!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Baseball Game

On Monday night Ruslana went to her first baseball game--the Dodgers vs. the Padres.  Although she didn't totally get what was going on, she loved it! We went with Mark's parents and we all had a lot of fun. And to top it off, the Dodgers won! 

Mark, Ruslana, Grandmother, and Grandfather
Eating a Dodger Dog
Eating a Chocolate Malt
Mama, Ruslana, and Papa
Over the course of the night she started to get more into the game, enjoying the music, and joining in the cheering.  She also got a little silly:
Watching the game 
Wearing Papa's Hat
OK, we all got silly
Doing the Wave
Full body cheering

A night out at the ballgame was a great family bonding experience, and we look forward to many more.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Baby Shower

I was blessed with a beautiful baby shower this past weekend hosted by Mark's mom and sister.  The theme of the shower was baseball which was perfect since Mark is a die hard fan.  I'm still amazed at all of the little details they put into the shower and I'm convinced it would get lots of repins on Pinterest! :)
Here are some photos from the day:
The Snack Bar--including "beef sliders" (french dips), "the green monster" (avocado sandwiches),
 "Dodger Dogs" (pigs in a blanket), "fruit bats" (fruit on a skewer),
Cracker Jacks, Red Vines, M&M's, and Bubble gum 
Adorable clothes line with baseball onesies, handmade centerpieces,
peanuts, and baseball cards at each place setting
The gift table--wow were we blessed!
Favors: baseball rattle sugar cookies handmade by Betty--Thank you!
The two gracious hosts--my mother and sister-in-law
Opening gifts for the future Trojan 
Ruslana opening a gift brought for her--a beautiful bracelet 
My dear friend Kim and I--both expecting boys!
Ruslana, my mom, Tina, Stacy, Diane
Traci, Aubreyann
Christine, Aunt Judy, Aunt Diane, Kim                                 
Kim, myself, Mark, Debra
Laura, Tracey, Hilary, Victoria
The Reed girls and Amanda
Kalie, Linda, Erin, Melanie, Cary, Betty, Cydney

With my mom and sister 
With both of my "babies"
My cousin Tori, sister Laura, cousin Hilary, and Aunt Diane
who drove all the way from Arizona to celebrate baby boy
Grandmother and Ruslana--I think they look so alike!
Soon-to-be parents of two
We had a great time eating, talking with friends and family, and playing a few games.  One game we played was predicting baby boys name, birthday, weight, length, and hair color.  Interestingly several people guessed the name "Jayden" and most predicted a baby around 8lbs. To those who predicted a baby weighing over 100 lbs and being a few yards long--very funny! I anticipate looking back and seeing if anyone guessed the correct statistics.

Ruslana did great socially and seemed to enjoy herself.  When we got home she couldn't wait to go through all of baby brother's gifts to look at and organize them with me.  Later in the day she told me what a fun day it was and that she is excited to play games with her brother.  I can't wait to see what a great big sister she will be! 

Thank you to all of our friends and family who made this such a special day.  We've literally doubled our family over night and couldn't have done it without all of your love and support. Thank you!