Monday, October 6, 2008

Build a Bear!!


Yesterday Masha and I met my friend, Darleen (see picture), at Build A Bear in Fashion Island. Masha really enjoyed herself and was very well behaved.  Masha picked out a wedding outfit for "Vika" and then Darleen had her pick out a few more.  She got pajamas and slippers and a daytime outfit. Masha loved checking out all the accessories at the store.  She'll probably go back with Brynn in November to add to her collection.  It was great having Darleen there as she really knows the ins and outs of that store.  She hooked Masha and Vika up with every color ribbon and bow in the place.  Masha has already had her new teddy bear in all three outfits. Thanks, Darleen, for a great day!

Also, Masha went to Russian school on Sat.  It's a school in Newport Beach that is taught in Russian.  She is taking five classes-Russian literature, Russian, math, drawing, and science. There were over 40 kids there.  Most of the kids have one or both parents who speak Russian. Masha was the only one there with no parents speaking Russian. Masha had a blast and was so glad to have kids to speak Russian to.  We're going to have Viktor take two classes so he can start to brush up on his Russian again.  Having Masha here has helped him to remember some Russian and he's eager to relearn it.  When she was getting ready for school today, she asked if she was going to Russian or English school-funny!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Brynn came home from Missouri this weekend to spend time with Masha. Even though I vowed we would not take her to Disneyland so soon, I let Brynn convince me it was okay.  I was afraid Masha would be overstimulated and not be able to handle it.  I was wrong!  She was great.  She loved all the Halloween decorations and even saw Goofy and Mickey on Main Street. We met my friend, Lea, who is also going to be Masha's teacher, and had lunch at the Blue Bayou Restaurant.  That was the only time she got a little impatient because she wanted to get back to the rides.  We let her know in advance when there were about 3 rides left.  She counted them and then was very good about leaving.  We have annual passes so we'll be back often.  The picture that most makes me smile is the one where she is  in the teacup.  When she first got in the cup, she sat on the circular thing in the middle.  She thought that was how it was supposed to be ridden.  I wish we'd gotten a picture of that. Also, the Space Mountain picture is classic.  She actually liked the ride and wanted to go again!  We went past and through many stores and she did ask for a souvenir but we told her that the trip to Disneyland was her present.  I am so happy that Brynn speaks some Russian-it was so helpful.  She wasn't happy about not getting a souvenir but didn't make a big deal of it.  It seems that every time she goes somewhere or meets new people she gets something.  She needs to learn that is not usually the case.  All in all, she has had a very positive first week.  No major dramas to speak of.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Masha at School

I have been taking Masha to school the past few days for just an hour or so at a time.  I wanted to see how she would handle it.  She and the students in her class have done very well.  Her teacher, my good friend Lea, has made it a positive experience for her.  The first day she didn't want to go. The second day she came bounding down the stairs with her backpack on and ready for school.  Whenever I mention her teacher's name she smiles. To prepare for her time at school, Masha labors over her hair.  This is what she ends up with.  What you can't see is the third ponytail sticking out of the back of her head.  She also puts every barrette she owns into her hair-front and back!!!  I figured that the other kids would kind of make faces at her hair and then she would alter it the next time.  When the kids saw her hair they all exclaimed, "Oh, it's beautiful!'  Shows what I know.  The smile really speaks to Masha's outlook on life.  She truly is a happy girl who brightens up whatever spaces she's in.  Today she did an addition worksheet while at school.  She had been having trouble with this a few days ago but was able to do it independently today.  She couldn't wait to show me the paper and the happy face on top.  As soon as she saw Viktor, she showed him her accomplishment.  It is now hanging on the refrigerator for all to see.  I have noticed that she is enthusiastic about learning.  I hope this continues.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The First Few Days

I keep hoping that these past few days have not been a "honeymoon period" and that she will continue to do as well as she has since arriving. We have had minimal problems with her. She is listening well and getting along with Viktor beautifully. He has really stepped up and taken on the role of big brother. He has been patient with her and very attentive to her needs. When she first saw her bedroom, she about flipped. There were Barbies there, along with some accessories-swimming pool, car, furniture, clothes, etc. Viktor was very good about helping her set up her Barbie town. She also spent hours making jewelry with a bead set she got as a gift. The only problems we have had with her are when she gets overstimulated. This has happened a few times. Saturday we went to the mall to hear Viktor's boys chorus sing. She loved watching the performance but got a little hyper as we were walking through the mall. We had to get out of there as soon as Viktor's concert was over. Sunday we had quite a few family members stop by to meet her. She did alright at first but then I had to ask them to leave as she started having trouble listening. We spent the rest of Sunday at home relaxing and she did much better. Today Masha and I started some school work. I plan on staying home with her for about five weeks and then she'll start in 3rd grade at the school where I teach. I worked with her today on letters and numbers. She definitely catches on quickly and seemed to enjoy the learning. I was a bit worried because in Ukraine she vowed she would not learn English and that everyone in America would have to speak Russian to her. It didn't take her long to figure out that's not happening! Well, my solitude has ended. She just came into the room asking for something. I, of course, don't understand her and she doesn't understand me. Thus goes our days.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

An American Citizen

Masha and Mike arrived home around 5:00 this evening.  She was very excited to see the house and to meet the pets.  We had dinner and then told her in order what she needed or could do.

1. shower
2. play
3. ice cream
4. bed

She agreed and is now clean and upstairs playing with Viktor.  They have been great together. Of course, we're only two hours into this and I realize sibling behavior will soon kick in.  For now, though, I choose to live in my fantasy world.  She picked up some English in the past few weeks and is trying to use it.  We're going to sneak upstairs now with a video camera and catch the two of them playing together.

Tomorrow she will meet Patrick.  I'll let you know what she thinks of him. Poor Brynn has called a few times already.  I know it's hard for her not to be here.  She's coming next week to spend time with Masha.

Ann and Bill, she has already mentioned you and wanting to see you on the computer.  We'll definitely set something up soon.

I will continue to blog as she settles in with us.  I will be as honest as possible but will try to accentuate the positive.

That's it for tonight.

Monday, September 15, 2008

One More Hurdle Jumped

I just talked to Mike and he said he has her passport in hand.  It literally took two minutes to get. They didn't even ask for his ID-they just had him sign his name to pick it up. They are on their way back to Kiev from Odessa.  As I was talking to him, they got pulled over by a police officer. What they do is kind of funny.  A few police officers will pull their cars to the side of the road and stand outside their cars together.  They have a big baton or flashlight in their hands.  As cars go by, they just point at your car with their flashlight/baton and that's your signal to pull over. Usually it's all handled by paying them a fee right there and then you're on your way.  I don't know how much the fee is because that's one thing we weren't asked to pay for while there! The cars coming in the other direction are pretty good about warning you with their headlights. Anyway, Mike said Masha has calmed down a lot since he got there and that she did very well on their long drive today.  I hope that behavior translates to the flight on Thursday.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Papa is There!

Mike arrived in Kiev today and is at Ann and Bill's house with Masha.  I talked to him on the phone a few hours after he arrived and I could hear her excitement in the background.  Her journey to America is almost over.  I just finished Skyping with them.  Everytime we talk and see each other on the computer, she asks to see the dog and her bedroom.  This time I showed her the Barbie dolls that are here for her.  We counted them together in English-five of them!  She was grinning from ear to ear.  By the time I saw them on the computer screen a few hours after the phone call, she seemed to have calmed down quite a bit.  I am a little worried about the trip  back to the U.S.  She has never been on a plane before and will be extremely excited.  We are going to have some of Ann and Bill's friends from church talk to her about expected behavior for the trip home.  Mike and Masha will also have a four hour layover in Frankfurt, Germany.  I figure he can just feed her during that time and she'll be fine!  Please pray that the next few days of final paperwork go well and that they can return home as planned on Thursday, Sept. 18.  Also, keep all the other families who are in Ukraine now in your thoughts and prayers.