Sunday, July 3, 2011

Our first few days with Anya

We are having a great time with Anya.  I'm a little ashamed to admit that when I first considered hosting, my first though was to get a teenage girl so she could help me with the kids.  Rachael said that if that was really what I wanted, I should consider a nanny, rather than hosting an orphan.  Of course I would give her great opportunities of fun, and family experiences as well, but I couldn't help see the benefit to me, as those of you who know me well, know that my 2 kids are a handful right now, being so young and so close together in age.  After finding out more about the hosting program and the rules and the expectations, I accepted that this was not something I should be doing to benefit myself, but to do something good for another child.  A child who doesn't have the most basic thing in life, a mother and father to care for them.
While on our first meeting, Anya was a little shy, and that shyness lasted a few days, it seems to be gone, and she is showing who she really is.  I am really enjoying seeing her do things she has never done before.  Surprisingly it is the simple things she seems to enjoy the most.  On our first day we were still in Chicago, so I took her and Tony and Bella to Navy Pier to walk around and do a little sight seeing.  We rode the ferris wheel, which was nothing exciting or thrilling for Anya or my kids.  We walked around some more, but still, all 3 kids seemed bored.  Since I could not ask her what she wanted to do, (not that she would tell me anyway, being so shy and shell shocked to her new environment) I decided to go to the Chicago Children's Museum.  I figured at least 2 out of the 3 would be happy if we did that.
Anya was a good sport, walked around with me and helped me keep an eye on Tony and Bella, as they were running around in 2 different directions.  After a couple hours of that, I realized that it was nearly 1pm, and approaching 24 hours since Anya had eaten or even had water to drink.  She had refused everything I offered her since her arrival in Chicago.  Being such a skinny girl* (5'7'', 102 pounds), she looks like she shouldn't miss a meal.  I saw a McDonald's, and thought I would offer that to her, and it was a success.  McDonald's must be universally liked, because she ate a hamburger, french fries and a coke.  I was oh so happy to see her eat finally.  My not so good eaters (Tony and Bella) ate really good too surprisingly.  For the first time ever, I thought maybe I didn't order enough food for them.
From her first meal with us, she was a good sport about sharing her food.  Bella was stealing her fries, and she hasn't stopped stealing food from her plate since then.  It seems every meal we eat, even if Bella has her own plate of the same food, she wants Anya's.  I always say, "Bella, NO" and Anya looks at me, and in her own way, tells me, it's okay, she doesn't mind.
Once we finally got home, and settled into home life, I realized the things that Anya seems to like the most are just normal routine things we do everyday.  Pull the kids in the wagon and play with them on the swing set, help me make dinner, and set the table.  Francie taught her to make bread, and then the next day, a cake.  She seemed overjoyed with cooking, so I think I will start having her help me with the cooking more.  Her bedroom, with the new window construction is finally done.  Yes, she had to sleep on the mattress in the play room for a few days, but she didn't seem to mind.   On Friday I took her for her first pedicure, which she really loved.  The guy who did her nails, gave her 2 painted flowers on her toes, (normally a charge for that, but he did it for her just to be nice, which I thought was really sweet.)  Then we went to the paint store to buy paint for her bedroom.  (the construction is done, but still needs paint before complete.)  I intended to buy the paint, and hire a painter to paint, but as we were picking out colors, I asked Anya if she would like to paint the room with me.  She smiled and seemed very excited about that.  So today, we are going to paint her room, and put it back together, so she has a place to call her own while here this summer.
Yesterday we went swimming for nearly 5 hours at my cousins pool.  Anya is a great swimmer, she told me she taught herself to swim in the sea.  Francie taught her how to dive, and after many many belly flops, she finally got it!  She loved the pool slide, and little Bella of course wanted to go down the slide "on her lap", so Anya carried her up the ladder, and carefully got situated with Bella on her lap.  I was in the deep end, ready to catch Bella, but worried how I was going to do that while treading water.  She had a life jacket on, so I wasn't worried she would drowned, just worried she would be under long enough to get a mouth full of water and hate it.  Anya was so good though, when they went down the slide, she somehow stayed under water, holding Bella up with her arms so she stayed above water, until I was able to get her.  I'm not sure even I could have done that.
Tony and Bella adore Anya, but Tony is such a mama's boy, as most of you know, and whenever Anya tries to help him out of the car, he says "mama, mama!" and he does that so often, that now, Anya mimics him, and looks at me and says "mama, mama, mama!" and we laugh and trade sides, so she gets Bella and I get Tony out.  Although, just yesterday, he has changed his mind, and when I go to get him out, he says "no!  Anya!".  So now it's a big guessing game when we get out of the car, which kid I will help and which one Anya will help.
Well this is getting long, and kids will be up soon, yes our days are long here, and Tony and Bella refuse to miss out on any of the fun, so they have been staying up till 10:30/11 at night.  The only good in that, is that they sleep in late.  It is now 10am and not a peep from any children yet.  That has been the routine for the past 4 days.

*New Horizons requires us to do weekly reports on how things are going, and that also includes a weekly height and weight.  Which is how I know Anya is 5'7" and 102 pounds.  I weighed her last night.  My sisters were here, and we were guessing how much she would weigh before she stepped on the scale.  We all guessed a range of 85-90 pounds.  No one dreamed she would be 102!  So when she stepped on the scale, and saw the 102 we all stared in disbelief, especially Anya.  She said, "no, no, no" and re-weighed herself 3 times.  Each time, just sure it was wrong.  We were teasing her that she had gained weight in America (even though she eats like a bird.)  We finally figured out, that they use kilograms in Ukraine, so that is why she was so shocked!!  When I told her the conversion was 46kg, she was much happier.  We all got a good laugh out of that.

Well I seem to be having trouble getting blogger to find my pictures.  So for now, I am posting pictures on Facebook and blogging without pictures.  If you want to see pictures and aren't Facebook friends with me, leave me a comment and I can give you the link.

PS  When I say, "Anya says"  I don't mean she speaks English. We use the ipad and my iphone regularly to communicate.  It has been a great help to both of us, and she is a whiz with it.

PSS  Anya has far exceeded any expectations I had of her "helping me with the kids", I don't ask her for any help, and she just helps on her own.  Picking up the toy room, playing with the kids,  etc.  It seems the love my kids have for her, is a mutual feeling.

link to Facebook pictures from day 1 & 2

Open Gym pictures

pool and beach day with Anya


Jhira De Leon said...

Hi, I follow your blog for a long time but I did not dare put a comment out of fear that as I do not know were to put your blog private. I'm from Dominican Republic and I would like to see pictures of Anya:). I have a blog of my little niece, but it is in Spanish.

Rachael said...

Great post, Lori! I need to catch up now!

Anya is great, I agree. She far exceeded any expectations I had for how things would go for you guys too. You chose well!

P.S. Kristen says she is feeling more comfortable and less awkward around her too now. She likes her.

Sandman said...

Very Nice Blog. We are trying to get Masha to use the translator more or ask us questions, but she seems pretty content with yes and no so far.

Annie said...

I hope you don't mind my following your blog. I'm so envious that you are hosting.

Annie said...

The joy really is in seeing the kids discover and love the things that we take for granted.

Elle J said...

Yay!! Love this post!!! Glad everything is going so well for all of you.

Tina in CT said...

Not only is this a wonderful experience for Anya but for you and your whole family. How great that your kids immediately took to her. Enjoy your time together this summer.

E.B. in Tennessee said...

Very cool post! I was excited to see that you're blogging again. I love the new format and the main picture of Tony and Bella...beautiful!

A Room to Grow said...

Hi Lori! I'm a friend of Rachel's and saw that you are hosting. Thanks for sharing your experience!

Anonymous said...

Wow! You don't have her living under the stairs like Harry Potter do you?

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