I feel truly blessed to have gotten such a sweet girl. When I was trying to decide who to pick from the photo listing and brief summaries, it was just so hard to know who would be a good fit for our family. I finally narrowed it down to 3 and decided to let Todd choose from the 3. I figured that way, if we didn't like her, I could somehow blame him, since he picked her, or at least have some defense if he tried blaming me. Since after all this was all my idea in the first place.
Things are still going great, but I am getting tired. All this going going going, is wearing my pregnant body out. My kids went a whole week of staying up till 10pm+ every night, no naps for Bella (which she still so badly needs), and early mornings for me. With the kids running on low sleep, you can imagine their behavior is far from perfect. They are naughtier, crankier, whinier and clingier than usual, and with Anya here, I of course feel the pressure to be the perfect motherly example and never lose my patience with them. The kids sleep in late, till 10 usually, so I get up at 7 when Todd goes to work, and get any paperwork done for my job I need to do. 7a-10a is my only free time of the day, and it's not nearly enough time to get done all I feel I need to do. The laundry is piling up, and the house is getting harder and harder to keep picked up. Thank goodness for my cleaning lady, she came and did the hard cleaning on Thursday. All I have to do, is the daily pick up and straightening, which is hard too if you ask me. Three days ago I decided to reinstate the nap time. Nap time for Bella, quiet play time for Tony, and if I am lucky, a nap for me. So 2 of the past 3 days, I have gotten a little nap too, which makes a huge difference in the second half of my day.
Yesterday when Bella and I were napping, Tony was playing in his room, Anya in her room. When I woke up the house was quiet. I went downstairs and could see out the window that Tony and Anya were playing together in the driveway with the sidewalk chalk. She had written out our last name in big bold letters, and then wrote "the best" underneath our name. (Todd says she's just sucking up, lol) I love that they play together. She has taken on the role of "big sister" to them, and tolerates their typical toddler behaviors so well. Any other kid, I believe would have been far less tolerant. I asked Anya how she and Tony ended up playing outside, and she told me he came and got her, and took her out to play.
Anya now notices when I am getting tired, she can see me yawning, and encourages me to sleep when Bella does, which makes me feel less guilty. Thursday was the first day I started the nap routine, but I still had painting to finish up in Anya's room, so while she insisted I nap, I insisted I finish her room. Which by the way, her room is 90% done. My sister Natalie is going to make the curtains today, and then it will be complete. (Pictures to follow.) Anya loves her room, and I do too. It is so homey and inviting.
Last week I took her to my cousins house for her first horse riding experience. She was a bit timid at first, but seemed to thoroughly enjoy every minute of it.
She has also enjoyed helping me make dinner each night. Todd brought home some baby eggplants the other day, and we made eggplant parmesan (my favorite).
I took her shoe shopping the other day at TJ Max, and for the first time since she has been here, I saw some typical teenage behavior. She definitely has an opinion about what she wants to wear. She probably did the few times I took her shopping before, but was too "new" to say so. After trying on several pairs of shoes, she settled on a pair of dress shoes for church (last week she had to wear flip flops) and some new Sketcher tennis shoes, with sparkles on them. We then went to Lowe's and I let her pick out a plant for her room (an idea I got from another host parent, Serafina) and she picked out some flowering cactus plants. Not what I would have picked, but they look very cute in her room. We also bought a few other room decor pieces including a picture frame to hang on the wall above her bed with a space for 4 pictures. I asked her what pictures she wanted in them and she said, "1. Tony, 2. Bella, 3. Todd and Lori, and 4. Anya." So I let her pick out the ones she wanted and we printed them.
Monday we (Anya and I) are going to Chicago for a day trip. We will take the train, and my sister Rachael and her kids will be going, my sister Natalie, my sister Francie and Lilia (one of the Chaparone's) Irina another chaperone staying with friends locally, and we are meeting up with Serafina and her clan too. I am getting a sitter for Tony and Bella and leaving them home. Todd says that is cruel and I should take them, they would love it. I say he clearly has not spent enough time entertaining them by himself. Those 2 are a lot of work, and just the thought of taking them by myself is exhausting. Even though there will be plenty of others to help, when my kids are cranky and tired, they only want mama! So all the help in the world is useless to me.
The other night, we were talking to Lilia and Anya about Chicago and asking them what they want to do when we are there, and Lilia wants to ride the ferris wheel, the one I took Anya on the day after she arrived, and she showed no glimpse of enjoyment over it. (We brought the picture home and showed Lilia, and that's how Lilia knows about it and now wants to do it.) It was so funny because when she said that, Anya was all smiles and excited to do it again. I sort of teased her, and said, "Oh, now you want to ride the ferris wheel!" Her true personality is starting to show, and I really like it.
In addition to being sweet with the kids, super obedient, willing to do anything I suggest, easy to please food wise, she is extremely helpful around the house. I do not ask for her to help me clean up or cook, but with every meal she sets the table, helps cook, clears the table and now does the dishes. I of course help her, but she does this all on her own. I feel guilty letting her do so much, but the more she insists, the easier it is getting for me to let her help. I don't get any help normally, so it's really quite nice.
Yesterday Rachael's friend, Olga, who is hosting a chaperone as well, is Russian, and has many Russian friends. They all got together and put on a picnic potluck lunch for us, making authentic Russian and Ukranian foods. It was such a nice meal, and great to talk with all of them. We were talking about the kids, and how most of them eat like they've been starved for years. I was saying how Anya is quite different, she will eat if I tell her to eat, but if I ask her if she wants to eat, or if she is hungry, she will say no. In fact I have had to rephrase the way I talk to her. Instead of saying "do you want to eat?", I say, "It's time to eat." They explained to me, that is a cultural thing, in Ukraine, if you offer them something, even if they want it, they automatically tend to say no on the first offer. It takes 2 or even 3 times before they will accept. After he told me this, I started to notice that whenever Anya offers me something, (whenever she gets juice, or food for herself, she offers to get some for me as well) if I say no, she keeps insisting I take it, and I have to say no, 2 or 3 times before she accepts my answer. It's funny knowing that bit of cultural difference, now I know why she offers it to me several times before accepting my answer.
Well time to get started on some laundry folding before the kids wake up.