Hosting: Real Talk

I’ve had many people ask, “how are things really going?”

Truthfully, things are going well. The two hardest parts of hosting are the language barrier and trying to entertain an extra child over the summer.

So, the language barrier. For the most part, we don’t struggle to explain significant things. The program provides a translator, as well as the chaperone, and we could call either one with questions or for translations.  But, Big L wants to know what we are saying. At first, she would yell “WHATA?!” somewhat obnoxiously, when she wanted to know what we were saying. Now, mostly she mostly trusts us to translate what needs to be translated. She seems to understand what I translate into her language for her, but when she translates something for me, it can take several tries to get a translation that makes sense. If I have no context for what she is saying, it is very frustrating, especially for her. I cannot imagine spending an entire summer with, and growing close to people without being able to communicate well.

That being said, Big L has a huge desire to learn English. She spent some time doing a program called Mango Languages, free through our local library. It is a Russian English as a Second Language course. Russian is not her primary language, but she knows enough of it to understand the course. She learned quite a bit, but still rarely uses it in practice. Just last night, we called her chaperone. Her chaperone asked how her English was, and when I told her that she was shy to use it, the chaperone encouraged Big L to try more. I hope that she will. I believe she has a lot of potential to learn English this summer, but she does need to try. However, I also understand her hesitation to speak in a new language that everyone around her speaks fluently.

So, the second challenge. Trying to entertain an extra child over the summer. Summer entertainment is a big challenge for all of my kids. There is just so much time to occupy. Big L can be very clingy when she is bored, but she is getting better. So far, she has read the entire Jesus Storybook Bible in her native language, made both string and loom bracelets, done an online English course, bike riding, gone swimming countless times, play lots of Uno and Go Fish, and more. I picked up a few books in her native language, and she is doing some reading. I also have a scrapbook for her, so once I have some time to get it started, I’ll hand that over to her and hopefully she will enjoy making some pages.
[reading the entire Jesus Storybook Bible in 2 days.]

These are both such little frustrations in the bigger, awesome picture. Things are going really well here, honestly. Big L is a great kid and we’re happy to have her around.

Questions about hosting? Sure, we’re only 2.5 weeks in, but I’m happy to answer what I can! Leave a comment!

Saturday Morning Regatta

The day after the 4th of July, there was a little boat race activity down at a local park that my mom had signed my kids and my niece and nephews up for.

The kids each got a boat to decorate.

Then, the boats were put into the creek to race.
(that’s Reed, fishing his out.)



(yes, Big L was there, too, but she did not make a boat. You can find her in all purple here, next to my crazy nephew in yellow who looks ready to jump off the bridge.)


The kids had lots of fun. It might have to make this a new tradition.

Other Fourth of July Fun

Here are some other pictures from our Fourth of July. We had a busy, super fun day. Pretty much everything I love about summer.

Bike riding.



This handsome face.

Warning: don’t trust a girl with a bubble gun.

There was a bit of yoga.

We watched the clouds pass for a bit.

Enjoyed laying in the grass.

And these shenanigans started.


Love these guys. And summer.

June’s Photography


June was a very full month. Here was my Must Capture list:

  • Family reunion #1
  • Preparations for L’s arrival
  • L’s arrival!!!
  • Time with cousins

Family Reunion #1

This was a lot of fun and I think I did a fair job documenting it.

Lots of memories made there.

Preparations for L’s Arrival

Yes, I did a lot of this, and I think I did a fair job documenting it. Sharing about her room and the 67 things I want her to know.

L’s arrival!!!

I wish I had a few more pictures of this, but in the awkwardness of a first meeting, it’s really hard to document it well. My mom took this one with her phone, and it’s one of my favorites.

Time with cousins

This has been pretty well documented, I think. They’re having a blast together!


Another month crossed off of my list for the 365. Here’s what I’m hoping to capture in July.

July’s Must Capture List

  • 4th of July fun
  • More Summer Fun
  • Family Reunion #2/Family Traditions
  • Traveling Back Home

Her First Fourth of July

We had so much fun today that I’m going to have to break it up into two blog posts! But, I’ll start with the more festive part… fireworks!

Okay, this has little to do with fireworks. I just spotted it while we were walking over to the fireworks and really liked it.

We got there a bit early, with some glowsticks and a deck of Uno cards.

Then, the fireworks started.

When the fireworks started, Gus started freaking out. My mom had brought some heavy-duty ear protection, but even that did not get him to calm down. He just kept yelling “I WANT TO GO HOME!!!!” Screaming and screaming and clutching me like his life was surely in danger. Last year, he enjoyed the fireworks, so this was surprise.

So, home we went. Just me and him. I hadn’t intended to carry him, as my sister had brought her stroller. But, I carried the 30+lbs of toddler and camera gear the 3/4 mile back, while he screamed and I sang a song about the moon, trying to calm him. Occasionally, he’d catch a glimpse of the fireworks and I’d ask him if he’d like to stop and watch them. “NO, I WANT TO GO HOME!” Poor kid was terrified. We made it. He calmed down. Still wasn’t quite sure that everyone else would survive, as he asked my nephew “Are you okay?” the second he walked in the door.

Then, it was time for sparklers and other little firework things.

And, my favorite picture. This was not planned, but it sums up her first fourth of July experience. Sparkler in hand and flag in the background.


Happy birthday, America.

Ordinary Days

One of my goals was to give Big L a boring summer. A summer filled with ordinary days. Lightening bugs, and bike riding. Swimming and camping and food right off the grill. No big adventures needed, just family time. This is what we are sinking into.

She catches fireflies for Gus.

Unfortunately, he’s a bit of an accidental firefly squisher, so instead we’ve started giving him little bits of grass. At first he didn’t notice the difference, but now he laughs and says “no!”.

Hanging out on the patio.2014-07-03_0004

The mail has started pouring in. It is so fun.

Her first one that she got was a message in a bottle, complete with an umbrella and sand. It was adorable! It came from CA, from Jenny. Jenny blogs at Insane for Ukraine. Thank you, Jenny!

And her second was from a super sweet new friend, Amanda, a cousin of someone who adopted from Gus’s orphanage. Inside were two bracelets– one from Big L and one for her to share with Lena. Thank you, Amanda!

She is excited and baffled by these people she doesn’t know sending her mail. She asked me today if it was my mom. Nope! I explained to her that they are friends of mine who just want her to know how special she is.

We pulled our bikes today. Big L told me that she knew how to ride, but I wasn’t sure. But, she does. Turns out she’s rather confident on a bike.

Don’t worry, Gus supervised.


That’s life here. Sometimes boring, pretty ordinary, but shaping up to be a pretty fun summer, too.