It is easy to love the people far away. It is not always easy to love those close to us. It is easier to give a cup of rice to relieve hunger than to relieve the loneliness and pain of someone unloved in our own home. Bring love into your home for this is where our love for each other must start. -Mother Teresa

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Christmas Letter Update 2016 - Nadia Michelle

Nadia Michelle

One of the most interesting things that has happened regarding Nadia this year includes an un-official name change. Our oldest daughter's given name is Nadia Michelle. When she first moved to the US, she felt that Nadia was "too Ukrainian" and didn't sound very English. We tried to convince her otherwise but she was insistent. We really do try to pick our battles and you may find this hard to believe but what we call our daughter wasn't a hill a we were willing to die Michelle is what we called her. Sometime this spring, she asked to start using Nadia again.

When we spend time with people we haven't seen in a while, the minute Nadia is out of earshot, they politely corner us to ask in a whisper, "I hear you call her Nadia. Are we all supposed to call her that now? I thought her name was Michelle. What are we supposed to call her?"

The answer is call her Nadia. The answer is call her Michelle. The answer is she will respond to either one and doesn't really have a preference.

When we travel, which we do a lot,  these two usually end up in a bed together. They each complain that the other one is too cuddly! But doesn't that just make them perfect for each other?!?! 

The year began with a quick trip to The Magic Kingdom at Disney World. First Tea Cup ride!

This was a first for everyone in our is nice when we all get to try something for the first time and Nadia and Stacey aren't the only ones. We all got to try Snow White's Mine Train Roller Coaster. Yes, my motion-sickness child LOVES coasters and is totally willing to not feel well in order to ride them. 

In January, we were given a wonderful adoption gift: a Disney Cruise! Nadia LOVED, LOVED, LOVED it. She made so many new friends from all over the US and loved all the new experiences. Here she is enjoying the sand in sun at Castaway Key, the private Disney Island in the Bahamas. 

First Mardi Gras Party and guess what? She found the prize in the King's Cake. You know what that means??? She will be making the King's Cake for her second Mardi Gras Party! 

In Feburary Nadia dressed up to attend her first Father-Daughter Dance. Of course, she had to share him with her three younger sisters but she didn't mind. This girl loves a good dance!
Here Nadia is on the Big Four Walking Bridge over the Ohio River between Louisville, Kentucky (where were spent a few days visiting family friends) and Indiana. 

An Easter Basket was a new tradition that Nadia really enjoyed: Candy!!!
Dying eggs with Papa Joe

The girls attempted an old Ukrainian Easter Tradition, Paska Bread. It didn't quite turn out but it was fun trying. 

In April we took a spring break up to Michigan. We were able to catch up with a classmate of her's from Ukraine. We also spent time with Nadia's Godparents. Here is Tara, Nadia's Godmother, presenting her with her life verse. 

In Michigan we were able to visit two very interesting and unique museums: USS Silversides, where she explored a retired nuclear submarine and the other was the Air Zoo (where Nadia flew a a simulation) 

You are likely to see Nadia either with a baby or an animal in her arms. The girl loves both. Here she is feeding a baby lamb at a petting zoo in Michigan. 
Nadia was another activity that used to be something she enjoyed with her Ukrainian Father: Fishing! It is a good thing we live across the street from a pond because Nadia spent most of her summer out there fishing, kayaking, or just floating around in an inner tube!

Nada was too old for any of the soccer teams in our area this year so she had to join me on the sidelines. There is talk her Dad is going to start a program so High School Girls have someplace to play soccer. She was able to participate in the annual VFW 3 v 3 tournament in our town

In July we visiting the Memphis Zoo. Nadia spent a long time here petting the rays. 

This fall found Nadia as a dual student: She attends Prairie Lakes Academy (our homeschool - lol) each morning and a few afternoons a week she attend Charis Christian Academy in Charleston. 
Our very athletic and active daughter was delighted her new school has a volleyball team. She went to her first practice without ever having seen a real game. She worked hard at practice (under some great and caring coaches) and practiced every day at home. You could quickly see her progress!!!

In  late August we took a family vacation along with the Stewart family to Mrytle Beach. Nadia spent hours in the sand and in the Atlantic Ocean.

She also enjoyed relaxing next to the pool in our rental. By the time she left South Carolina I am sure she was 6 shades darker!

Nadia was VERY surprised when Michael and I brought home a new puppy to surprise her and her sisters!
Let's party! Nadia was very excited to celebrate her 17th birthday by having her first-ever birthday party. She was very hands-on in the planning for her Shades of Blue Dance Party! She really got into the first birthday party theme and even had a smash cake! 

Great Grandpa J & Granny J from Texas and Grandma Fuzzy from Arkansas came all the way to help her celebrate!

There is no doubt that God knew what He was doing when He made these three family! Nadia dancing the night away with Tara, her Godmother, and Chadwick, her Godfather! As you can tell, she had a GREAT birthday!

A tradition in our house is to choose your birthday meal. Making choices is something that is still new to Nadia, and she often needs help. Not so much with picking her favorite meals: BBQ Pork Steak, Mashed Potatoes, Fried Potatoes, Ukrainian Salad, Watermelon, Bread, and Pickles. 

It wasn't long before Nadia's competitive nature earned her a nickname on her volleyball team: Little Beast! 

Because she was 16 years old when we adopted each other, Nadia had to take the Oath of Citizenship. Because her younger sister, Stacey, was only 13 years old, she did not have to take the Oath. Consequently Stacey received her Certificate of Citizenship months before Nadia. It actually worked our perfectly because Nadia enjoyed the adventure of being with all those other people from 30 different countries who were also taking their oath at the same time. (Stacey just kept saying, "I'm so happy I did not have to do this!) In case you were wondering, both girls were citizens automatically upon landing on US soil after they were adopted. The whole process is full of lots and lots of itty bitty steps, rules, and expenses. I'm happy to say that this was the very last thing we needed to accomplish regarding the girls' adoption. 

After her Oath, we hung around downtown Chicago for a while. Visited Millium Park, the Art Institute, and of course had to find some authentic verkeny and napoleon cake! 

Nadia's school (AKA orphanage) was in a very rural part of Ukraine. It was in a tiny village on the edge of a forest preserve. It was beautiful! Although I know she loves the activity and social aspect of living in town, I know she still enjoys "country" life. Our family is very close to two other families both of whom live rurally and let us enjoy the lifestyle.

Speaking of the outdoors, Nadia LOVES her time at Meme & Papa's Farm. Papa's new Gator goes a lot faster than his old one...

Another big change to Nadia's life and the Robey family in general has been this great guy: Tanner. Nadia and Tanner met at school and are enjoying getting to know each other better. What Nadia is not enjoying is being teased about it by the rest of her family....tough. If she didn't turn such a bright color read and her dimple wasn't so cute, we may have stopped. 

Nadia and I have a little more one-on-one time now that she is attending class. I try to pick her up with a snack and hear about her day before the craziness of the evening (and our family) begins. 

This girl is just so much fun to travel with. She is willing to try new things and simply just appreciates what she sees. This fall, the four girls and I took a 3-week road trip out west. I am not exaggerating when I say that she said, "Wow!" approximately 300 times on the trip. Seriously, I am not exaggerating! I love that she just sat there and stared at the Grand Canyon! 

Nadia found a new hobby while we were visiting Joshua Tree National Park in California: Bouldering. 
Again, this child battles motion sickness but you would never know it in regards to how she enjoys thrill rides. Here she is with her Uncle Vic, Nancy, and Cousin Miguel at Knott's Berry Farm. 

You know how I mentioned before that this girl is competitive? Well, it isn't just on the court or field, it is in everything! Here Nadia proudly displays her award from the Elf Party acknowledging that she won Jovie's Ribbon Curling Contest by creating the ribbon with the most holiday spirit!

Many evenings find Nadia cuddled up with our puppy, Rory, while she plays games and "talks" with friends on her iPad

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