Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Packing Day

I cannot believe that packing day is here!  These 5 weeks have been a whirlwind!!  And as soon as I catch my breath, I will be blogging quite bit about our experience.  There's a lot going on in my head and heart, but I'm limited by such tiny fragments of "spare" time!

Anyway, Sandija will leave early Thursday morning.  Today we will get all her stuff packed up, and tomorrow we are planning a special going-away treat for her.

Here are a few pictures from the past couple of days...

Look at them playing while I'm cutting cake!  (Oh, and look at my hair.  Sandija thought it would be fun to put 25 tiny brains in my already-curly hair and then take them out to create a major wave...and I do mean MAJOR!)

Sandija with our birthday boy...

The girls hugging...

And the treat she picked out from the Fudge Factory.  The good news is that she realllllllly enjoyed it.  The bad news is that Mama accidentally dropped it on the garage floor, and it broke into 18 million pieces.  Soooo, back to the Fudge Factory we go!

Keep posted because once everything settles down, I have much to type...

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Love Notes

I have left little love notes for Sandija over the past 4 weeks...in her bed, in her Bible, at her place at the table, with her tea.  And last week I began to receive some from her also.  Here's one that she wrote on our dry erase board.  It says, "Mama loves her children with her whole heart and soul."  And in the heart, she wrote, "Mama + children."  Ya see...this concept is brand new to her: a Mama who really loves her children.

Yesterday, she asked if she could dump out our candy bucket.  Out rolled a ton of candy and some stray cookie crumbs onto a blanket on the floor.  She was busy going through it for a long time.  Then she said, "Mama, come see!!"  And here was a "candy love note" for me.

The past 4.5 weeks have been very exhausting, training Sandija in the basics of manners, correcting pouting and tantrums, and learning in a few weeks what Mamas usually have years to learn about a child.  We've had our ups and downs.  The ups have been very up, and the downs have been like one of those rides where you free fall for 20 stories!  But here we are near the end of the ride, and we don't want it to stop.  I fully dread Thursday when we have to say goodbye.  This child is a daughter in my heart.

And, on a different note....10 years ago, I gave birth to this treasure:
This one is "a balm to my spirit," as I've called him for years.  He's the tender-hearted one who seeks to care for the brokenhearted and will take a backseat to make sure others are cared for.  And he is VERY funny...keeps me laughing every day.  Happy birthday, buddy!  I love you deeply.

Friday, July 27, 2012

God's Promises

New Horizons for Children is doing a video project, featuring the host children and God's promises for them.  Here is a sneak peek at the photo we submitted...

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Celebrating Sandija

We celebrated Sandija's birthday a bit early.  Here's a peek at her special day in photos...

First stop: Dunkin Donuts.  She wanted donut holes.

And then on to the Georgia Aquarium!  Here she is trying her hand at touching a sting ray.  She was proud of herself for being brave, but she didn't like the feel of it.

Pretending to hold a fish in the aquarium...

Very fun to be in the clear tunnel, and even cooler to have a scuba diver swim overhead!

She was mesmerized!

Then on home for her birthday dinner, cake and presents...  Hello Kitty, of course!

Roses from my parents...

Her meal of choice: hot dogs, potato salad, chips and watermelon...

She asked me to take a picture of Daddy Bear eating pink cake and drinking out of a Hello Kitty cup, which she found to be very funny indeed!

A glimpse into the kind of dinner and cake time we had...

Family photo...

Did I mention that we have issues??!

I guess she liked her mp3 player and her Daddy Bear who loaded it with her favorite Christian music!

And let's just say that she was quite thrilled with her doll.  Yes, in many ways, she is still a very young child.  Precious moment as we watched her open her gifts!  Oh, and she didn't want to mess up any of the wrapping paper, so she cut it neatly open with scissors.  :)

Can you tell that she loves Mama just a bit??  And Mama loves her.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Hosting: Week 4 in Photos

Really...when things settle down around here, I have TONS to blog about!  But I seem to only have tidbits of "extra"time at my disposal right now.  I uploaded these photos last night but was too tired to even write a few words to go with them!  So, here they are...  And really, one day soon, I will have time to write more.

Here we are making homemade pizza.

She was thrilled with the final product...

Here are my creative girls...one is doing embroidery, while the other is knitting.

Sandija had her first trip to Hobby Lobby, and it can be summed up in one word: AWE!  She went from rack to rack, rubbing the material on her face.

She was truly amazed at all the things in that store!  She kept saying, "Mama, what that?  Mama, what you do with this?"  It was the best time I've had in a store in a long time.  We bought her some fabric so that she can make herself a dress when she gets back to Latvia (one of her many talents).  Needless to say, she was the  happiest girl in the state that day!

First ICEE...

First package delivered by UPS...her winter coat and gloves.  When we ordered this stuff online, she could not believe that we could click a button on the computer, and then somehow the UPS person delivered the stuff to the door a few days later!

All ready for the Latvian winter...

We bought her a suitcase for her trip back, and she chose an amazing blue one.  Here she is playing inside of it...

Dinner time at our home is usually fun and filled with interesting conversations.  When Sandija was first in our home, she told us one night at dinner, "In Latvia, we don't talk at meals.  We eat."  We explained that we eat and talk (sometimes talk too much!).  Now, she joins in the conversation and enjoys herself.

More photos to come very soon...

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Week 3 Hosting Photos

Things have been too emotional for me to write much lately, but I will share some recent photos from our hosting experience...

Making waffles...

Atlanta Braves game...

And this little guy lives in an orphanage in Ukraine and is being hosted by friends of ours.  Before coming to America, he had only read about baseball and had dreams of one day learning more about it. So, it was special to watch him at his first major league game.  If your family is interested in adding a sporty guy to your family, please leave me a message on this blog.  We are looking for a forever family for him.  We have more information and photos available.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Past Few Days...

Sandija always watches me decorate the serving plate with fruit, so she tried her hand at it and did a really great job!  She even sprinkled cinnamon on all the apples like Mama does.  :)

First trip to the ice cream parlor in town!  Grandparents sent money for an ice cream treat, so we splurged with chocolate-dipped waffle cones and everything!

She wanted Mama to sit next to her.

Then she offered me a bite of her ice cream and about jabbed it through the roof of my mouth.  This photo caught it at the moment of impact.  We all laughed!

I have always tried to do little special things for my children to let them know that I love them.  One of their favorite things is for me to bring them some tea or lemonade during their bath time.  My oldest daughter wanted to bless Sandija with a treat, so she asked me if I'd make some hot tea (which Sandija loves), while my daughter got a warm bubble bath ready for her.  She sprinkled some cute cute cute little "bath confetti" into the bath water, and I put the hot tea, a small treat and a note next to the tub.

Click to enlarge to see the bath confetti.  :)

We called Sandija and told her we had a surprise for her, and she was really amazed and so happy.  She look a long bubble bath!

And here is a bit of sweetness...2 treasures from 2 different continents hugging on each other in America.  Only God could do this!  My cup overflows...

Really...does it possibly get any sweeter than this??

We have had a somewhat rough and rocky hosting experience, but God has been faithful to carry us.  And we have begun to understand some of the "why" behind the difficult behaviors.  That's another story for another day.  In the meantime, I thought you'd enjoy these photos from the past few days.