- During the past several weeks, we've had a few conversations about Ukraine vs. America, but this week Ruslana noted a very important difference. She's always said that she likes America best, but its normally for superficial reasons like the weather. A few days ago she told Mark that she likes America best because in Ukraine there is no family--no mama or papa. We appreciated hearing these heart-felt words!
- As I was driving Ruslana to the dentist (which involved two fillings and a tooth extraction...ouch), she saw a billboard with a photo of a baby. She pointed to it and said baby (although it sounds much more like "Bambi" when she says it, haha) then touched my stomach. Unprompted, she said "I love my baby brother." I was really happy seeing her excitement and love for her unborn brother. I'm also glad that she knows that she is just as much our daughter as he is our son.
- Since we arrived home, I've made an effort to tell Ruslana how beautiful she is. She would mainly respond with "no, mama." Slowly, "no" progressed to a shoulder shrug. It makes me sad thinking that no one ever told her these words or affirmed how beautiful she is--inside and out. Recently, however, I got "yes, mama." Hopefully she's starting to realize just how special she is!
- Over the past month, hearing a police siren would get Ruslana extremely upset. She would run away, beg to go home, and be on the verge of tears. It's disconcerting to think about the reason behind her fear of the police. Every time she's heard a siren I tell her that the police in America are good and that they are going to help someone. Just this past week, we heard a siren and, while she wasn't comfortable, she seemed much more relaxed. I hope that, with our help, she continues to overcome her fear of the police and appreciate them for all the great work they do.
- This, along with handstand attempts, has become a common occurrence around our house:
So, we decided to take the hint and sign her up for gymnastics this summer. She starts in just a few weeks once school gets out. Her little Eastern European body seems perfect for it and I wouldn't be surprised if she becomes a little olympian! Along with gymnastics, we've also signed her up for summer swimming lessons.
- Mark's parents watched Ruslana on Saturday which allowed us to go see a movie. They had a great time playing Chutes and Ladders, Uncle Wiggly, and watching some of Alice in Wonderland. We are so thankful to have our parents close and involved in Ruslana's life.
- She's been rocking a computer typing program I downloaded. She's up to a whopping 12 words per minute! :)
- Ruslana got to meet my Aunt Diane, Uncle Tres, and cousins Hilary and Victoria. Victoria was adopted from Russia when she was 10 and Ruslana reminds me so much of her. Here's a group photo which also includes my grandparents:
- We started a chore chart this week and it's been a great motivating tool for Ruslana. If she does all of her chores all week, she gets a set amount of money. But, for every item she doesn't do, she gets 25 cents taken away. One of the to-do items is "obey" and I'm happy to report that so far she's on a roll!
As time goes on, the transition is getting easier for all of us. We still have our moments, but Ruslana genuinely seems happy to be in our family and it is a joy for us to be her parents. She's constantly laughing and enjoying her new life. We are so thankful for our wonderful blessing!