Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Mission Project

Ruslana is learning about the California missions at school and she was assigned a project on San Luis Obispo.  Over the Christmas break she built a model: 
On Friday she presented her model and a gave a PowerPoint presentation to her classmates and their parents: 
She did a really great job!  She wasn't nervous at all and knew all the answers to the questions that were asked.  At the end of the mission fair the fifth graders, parents, and a few teachers were given a piece of paper to vote for the best presentation, overall project, and most creative.   Well guess who walked in the door yesterday with a blue ribbon for best presentation?  Our girl!  She's only been an English learner for ten months and she won best presentation.  We are SO proud of her! 
Ruslana with her best presentation ribbon.
She wanted me to send this photo to Ukraine so everyone would know she won ;)
 We wanted to celebrate her big accomplishment so we let her pick what special thing she wanted to do.  We said we could go out for a pizza party, get ice cream, or she could pick something else. She said that she wanted to spend the evening playing at the YMCA.  So play we did!
Getting ready to swim with papa
Riding on papa's back while he did laps.  What a life!
After swimming she wanted to try out the exercise bike:

And chose to end the night with a game of Basketball: 

And wouldn't you know, she still wasn't tired after all this play time!  This girl is active!!!

We are so proud of the effort she put into her project and are thankful for this great confidence booster.   She has shown tremendous growth at home and at school over the last few months and we look forward to celebrating many more accomplishments in the future. 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Love Note

Ruslana wrote me this heartwarming note this week:

  It makes me both happy and sad.  I'm so blessed to be this sweet girl's mama!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Help Ukraine!

Ukraine is in turmoil.  Their democracy is turning into a dictatorship, the people are being beaten and killed, and there is no end in sight.

The Ukrainian people are pleading for the United States to help them.  They are not asking for troops or money. They are asking for our government to impose sanctions and stand with them. Please take a few seconds to sign the petition below to show your support for the Ukrainian people. They deserve their freedom! 

Sign the petition here. 

To read more about the situation, check out these articles:
Wall Street Journal 
Buzz Feed
Motherboard Beta

To watch live video feed, click here or here.

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Christmas Season

We had a fun Christmas season.  Since it was Ruslana's first Christmas in America, we tried to expose her to many different traditions.  We...
  • Decorated the house and tree (which included a few new ornaments--a couple personalized with her name and a special set from Ukraine)
  • Baked and decorated cookies
  • Made Christmas candy
  • Went shopping where she picked out and purchased family members gifts with her own money (so sweet!)
  • Taught her how to wrap a present
  • Attempted to build a gingerbread house.  I say attempted because the walls kept sliding apart and it ended with us laughing, sticking the thing in the trash, and eating the candy instead
  • Watched Christmas movies (Home Alone and Elf were a big hit)
  • Looked at Christmas lights at the Mission Inn.  If you aren't familiar with the Mission Inn, its a historic hotel that displays over 4 million lights.  I'm pretty sure that the number of people there was comparable to the number of lights!  Despite being crowded, we still had fun.  

We spent Christmas Eve at our home with my dad, sister Laura, and her boyfriend James.  We had a great time eating, talking, and opening gifts.  Ruslana got a big kick out of an elf hat my dad brought her.

On Christmas Eve, I showed Ruslana a website (http://www.noradsanta.org/) that tracks Santa in live time.  It shows where he is and how many gifts he had delivered.  Since she'd been telling me that Santa didn't exist, I figured she'd just think it was funny.  But, something about the website made her rethink her position and she decided to write Santa a note just in case.  And would you believe it, Santa wrote back!
In addition to Santa's letter, she woke up to this on Christmas morning:
After we opened our gifts, we headed over to Mark's parents house for breakfast, the reading of the Christmas story, a game of Cranium, and more gifts.  
Then we went to my mom's house for a prime rib dinner, games, a hot fudge sundae ice cream bar, and more gifts!  Wow, we are so blessed!

We had so much fun celebrating our Savior's birth and being thankful for all of the blessings this year has brought.  It's hard to believe that last Christmas we had no kids and this year we have two! It was fun seeing Ruslana enjoy opening her gifts (what growth from just a few months ago!) and Levi trying to rip and eat all the wrapping paper! Our first Christmas as a family of four was a special celebration that we will never forget.  Thank you to everyone who made it so special!