River of Thoughts

Christine Royse Niles — Changing the world one word at a time

Eight Months

Winter is heaving-to. It has clearly decided that it’s not going anywhere, and in the meantime, it’s going to have a bit of fun with us. In typical Midwest fashion, we’ve experienced the battle between Canada and the Gulf of Mexico, throwing their separate weather patterns at us and laughing as they wreak havoc on our lives and plans.

After a couple of 55-degree days a couple weeks ago, accompanied by flooding worthy of a live remote on Good Morning America, we are again looking at a blanket of fresh snow and sub-zero wind-chills. God has thumbed his nose at the school system’s allotted number of snow-days, and they have begun tacking time onto the end of the kids’ sentence. The school year has been extended one day…so far. Any more snow-days, and our first summer vacation will be in jeopardy.

Masha takes it all in stride. The Winter Meltdown retreat brought kids from three churches together with the staff from our new “positive” radio station (www.remedy.fm check it out – great mix of rock, hip-hop, and alternative with none of the toxicity that is soaked throughout the mainstream media!!) for a weekend of fun and fellowship in southern Michigan. She had a great time; the highlight seemed to be an afternoon of Extreme Sledding.

She has continued to excel in school. Her teachers are all working hard with her, and she’s catching up to her class more quickly than anyone expected. Her homeroom teacher believes that she’s learning English quicker than normal, and we believe him. She understands most casual conversation now; while we still run into new words, she is more and more able to figure them out through context. She constantly comes home with new phrases…her current favorite word is “seriously.” “Seriously, Dad, the dog is stinky.”

I have never seen a kid work so hard at schoolwork. It’s a challenge to get her started, but once she has some momentum, she can’t stop until she’s all done. Recently, we were looking up vocabulary words in the dictionary. And yes, I am making her use a REAL dictionary. With pages. And a cover. Like…a BOOK NOT typing the word into dictionary.com and seeing what comes up! What a horrible, horrible monster I am! Or so I’ve been told. But I digress…

Recently we were looking up vocabulary words at the kitchen table. We had a few minutes as Mark was finishing up dinner, so I figured we could get about half of them done. She fought me on looking them up, but after the first couple, she got in the groove. We were starting on #5 when Mark announced dinner. He set the table around us; she moved the silverware away. He put her plate of roast chicken ON the open dictionary; she handed it to me. I had to take the dictionary away so she would eat. She was late to Campus Life because we needed to finish. I can honestly say I never cared that much about my homework!!

In school, she is gaining more confidence and grasping more each day. She even volunteered to read out loud with her reading group last week!!

Overall, we could not be more proud of her. Of course we have 13-year-old moments. We have times when her plans clash with ours. She sometimes perceives our home as a democracy rather than a benevolent dictatorship. But Masha is a good girl. Open-hearted, kind, and generous. We watched a movie last night with a teenage girl who, when talking to her mother, called her father “your husband.” Masha was baffled. “Why does she call him this? He’s her father. She should call him Dad. That is not nice.” She deals with anger much more constructively that I do, and I’m learning from her. And she always apologizes. On her own.

God has blessed us indeed!

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About Christine

I am a writer, a project manager, and a corporate refugee with a heart for orphans around the world. My two daughters were adopted from Ukraine at ages 12 and 14. I post about writing, chasing dreams, and making a difference in the world, and sometimes I share fun snippets of fiction in-progress.

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