internet marketing The Big Sis Diaries: November 2007

Friday, November 30, 2007

Kids Say the Darndest Things

So Sasha has been having a lot of fun lately playing with the little girl next door, who is six months older than Sasha is. Before I continue, please keep in mind that this child has a Danish mother and an Indian father- in short, she hardly looks like Sasha in any way.

At a playdate the other day, the two were sitting side by side, eating bananas. Noticing this, Sasha's little friend cried in excitement, "Mom, look! We're twins!"

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Thanksgiving Re-cap and Other Sasha Happenings

Thanksgiving, as low-key as it was, was made all the more fun and festive by Sasha. We had guests visiting, and Sasha was at her absolute best- she was a paragon of charm, wit, and intelligence, and oh my goodness, she could not have been cuter. The whole family melted in her presence, to the point where the mother- my mom's best friend- practically begged my mom to take Sasha along when the two of them went shopping by themselves on Saturday like they do every year. Of course, she's a gorgeous child, but her cuteness has nothing to do with that; her personality is something I simply can't describe. She is so smart, and her sense of humor is incredibly stong. As all children should be, she was shy of them at first, and was wary of them trying to hold or hug her, but she totally warmed up to them by that evening. She was very sorry to see them leave.

Her communication skills are getting better and better. She's always been good at letting us know what she wants, but she has gotten better about using language lately. We can have normal, albeit very simple, conversations with her now:

Sasha (taking my hand and pulling me toward the refridgerator): "Num-num?"

Me (taking a cheese stick-her favorite snack-out of the fridge): "Do you want this, Sasha?"

Sasha: "Okay!"

(I hand it to her.)

Sasha: "Thank youuuuu!"

We're pretty sure that she understands everything we say, but has a little more difficulty responding in words. For example, when my mom told Carsten he had to take a shower, she asked, "Bath? Bath?" knowing that that meant that it was her bath time, too. Today, we all had a laugh when we drove by a McDonald's, because Sasha laughed, pointed to it, and cried, "Num-num!!" Don't get me wrong, we really don't go all that often, but Sasha loves the french fries so much there that she knows by now where they come from.

She also responds to simple comands; if we ask her to put her jacket on, she'll do it. The only main confusion she has now surrounds names. She calls Carsten "Car-car" and says some form of "Kristian," and also says "Su-nana." She also consistently responds to her name now, so she knows that she is Sasha. Today, though, when I was tapping her chest and saying "Sasha" and then tapping my own and saying "Susanna", she would say, "No no no no no, Su-nana," and tap her own chest. We couldn't help laughing at her defiance, and whenever we laugh, she fake laughs, knowing full well that she think that she's hilarious.

Her defiance also comes through in her choice of clothes, as I've mentioned before. Every day, she insists on wearing her Ethiopian dress (case in point: below pictures) and that Iceland hat she was shown wearing in a past post. We've had to hide them because they're all she ever wants to wear, and she still manages to find them. As hysterical as it is, we're afraid that her Ethiopian dress is going to get torn up and stained soon- as you can see, it's already starting to wear out a bit.

As I've said thousands of times, this kid is incredible...hopefully this above video can show a snapshot of her character! (I put it on simply because of her blank expression at the end of the made us crack up!)

Friday, November 16, 2007

Sasha's Fashion Sense

Here is Miss Sasha, raiding her very stylish older sister's closet to add to her original accesories.

Sashe loves to mix and match various pieces of clothing for a very eclectic ensemble. Here, she sports a traditional winter hat from Iceland, a pretty pastel sweater, standard jeans, and of course, a rainbow umbrella.

Here she is in an outfit that my mother picked out and that she approved of.

In all honesty, Sasha really is very particular about her clothes. She'll let you know if she finds something especially cute or pretty (like on models in magazines, or what we're wearing), and likewise, what she doesn't like (there are certain things in her closet that she absolutely refuses to wear at certain times.) It's also true that she loves to go into my closet and pick out items of clothing-particulary hair accessories- that she wants to wear. She definetely takes after her big sister ;-)

On anoter note, Sasha is 22 months today! The time has flown by. In a mere two months, she will be two years old. Looking at her, I can imagine her being two, since she has the qualities of many two-year-olds and is pretty mature-looking, but it's astounding how much she has grown in under five months. Of course, the bigger she gets, the more amazing she becomes!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Remembering AHOPE (VERY LONG)

*photo courtesy of AHOPE website

As I have posted about extensively before, I have been working very hard on a small organization I created called The Sweet Dreams Project, which I began last year for my Senior Interest Project at school. The purpose of a Senior Interest Project is to explore an area of study you're interested in, and use the information you gain to somehow improve yourself or the community. It can really be anything, and of any size- you get 0.5 credit for it from the school, and it really polishes off college applications. Mine, however, has become one of the big focuses of my application, since it's so big and so important to me. Through it, I want to benefit the AIDS orphanage AHOPE in Addis Ababa, both through donation drives and raising awareness about how other people can help.

I began my Sweet Dreams Project last year by holding a drive through my brother's elementary school, collecting pajamas for the AHOPE kids. To my delighted amazement, I received over 200 pairs, and probably could have collected more if I thought I had room to bring them all when we went to Ethiopia. (I have more info on the drive here .) We managed to bring almost every single pair we found decent enough to bring with us. I know that I haven't yet talked about the experience, and it was such a defining moment of my life that it has taken me a while to come up with what to say. Since it's a Friday with no homework that needs to be immediately completed, I thought I would do that now.

On Friday, our last full day in Addis, we went to visit AHOPE. Sidisse and Gelila, who run the program, knew who I was right away (they said they'd be expecting me) and welcomed my family very warmly. They led us into Sidisse's office, which was small but cozy, and, after offering us seats, proceeded to tell us about the program they run there.

They explained a bit about how AHOPE was founded and how it is currently managed. It has a headquarters in Washington state, where donations are collected and subsequently sent to AHOPE Ethiopia; this goes to fund AHOPE's biggest projects, like building structures and buying necessary supplies. Because AHOPE lives solely on donations, it is, needless to say, not the most wealthy of institutions (I'll talk about this more a little later.) They were very grateful to accept the two big garbage bags filled with pajamas and a few other toy donations we had brought for them, explaining that receiving items like this was relatively rare since the money donations often go towards funding education and building materials.

We were then taken to see the children. What an (I can't even think of what adjective to put here) experience. I know this sounds so cliche, but it really makes you think differently about the magnitude of opportunity and even materialistc possessions that we really don't appreciate enough. The children were all sitting in front of a TV, a few broken and dirty toys scattered here and there. Their clothes were ill-fitting and far from clean. They all seemed to be some degree of sick, with molluscum and runny noses, and the air smelled of poor health. Everyone was doing their best to remedy the status of the children, I could tell; but it is undeniable that they needed so much more.

This included, most visibly, attention. From the start, my family was completely swarmed by little kids- one boy in particular jumped into my arms when we walked in and didn't let me put him down for the smallest fraction of a second. All the kids had fun showing us Polaroid pictures of all the AHOPE children posted on an old bulletin board, proudly reciting the names that were written underneath. They burst into peals of excited laughter when I repated back to them the names they so confidently informed me of.

After seeing the younger kids' compound, we visited the old kids' compound. Many of the children were away at the public school, but those who remained (the kindergartners and some older kids who were for some reason not going to school that day) were eating lunch. When we were taken in, we were met by stares; I could see the wheels of thought churning in their minds, trying to figure out what a white family with children, accompanied by a little girl who looked much like themselves, was doing there. When they learned that we were American, they excitedly began to practice their English on us, smilingly informing us of their names and ages in heavy accents.

We later saw some of the bedrooms, which were cramped, cement-floored rooms crowded with bunk beds. One of the most touching moments of my life occured then, when I saw a little girl playing with two of the rattiest, broken Barbies I had ever seen. In most American households, those Barbies would have seen the trash long ago, but this child was playing more animatedly with these dolls than many children do with much newer, perfect-condition toys. It was certainly very eye-opening.

Lastly, we saw the kindergarten classroom, which was a narrow room consisting of about twelve desks and some teaching supplies. We met some older girls who had been to New York through an AHOPE for Children-sponsored program, and they were interested to hear that we lived so close to that city. Seeing the classroom and the kids and learning that AHOPE often has volunteers from the States has inspired me to someday return and volunteer my time and efforts as a teacher there. I can really see myself doing that out of college or graduate school, before or after I do the Peace Corps.

When we left, Gelila and Sidisse thanked me for the millionth time for what I did. I do now think that the Sweet Dreams project made a difference, and I'm beyond glad that I did it. Before, it seemed to me that AHOPE was such a well-known institution that the might not need the pajamas, but I know now where the donation money really goes. Although it's great that buildings are being built and education is being funded, it's clear that they can really benefit from better clothes and toys, too. My mom said afterwards that she wished that ALL the donations we had brought we had given to AHOPE, because the donations of everything they had was quite a bit worse that that of our agency's orphanage.

I can't say that I'm proud of myself for what I did, because the discrepency between what I did and what they deserve is much too big. It wasn't generosity; it was justice! It was as much a gift to me as to them, meeting these ruthlessly optimistic, incredible children.

Nevertheless, I was glad to help, and happy that I could make a difference, however small, in their lives. The ladies wanted my contact information so we could keep in touch; they were very pleased to hear that I wanted to do more for them, and I know that any more donations I collect or persuade other people to give whill be gratefully received and used.

Therefore, I have thrown myself head-over-heels into the project this year. I have already spent too much of my time typing this and probably too much of yours by making you read it all, but I can assure you now that the Sweet Dreams Project will be BIGGER and BETTER. More info will be coming in a post in the near future!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Missing Her Already

My mom left a few hours ago for Michigan to stay with my grandpa, who is in poor health, while my grandma has surgery. She took Sasha with her, and they'll be gone until Sunday evening. Already I'm feeling an odd emptiness in the house. I guess this is how it was before Sasha came into our lives, but her absence is something I'll have a hard time getting used to. I'm going to miss her smiles and laughter when she's being silly and her drama-queen-esque performances when she's upset (she wanted to put on her pink bathing suit this morning instead of her regular clothes, and when I wouldn't comply to this, she threw herself down on the floor and refused to look at me. Of course, she got over it within five minutes.)

I've added these pictures to keep my special little girl fresh in my thoughts...but I'm sure I won't be needing reminders!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Experiments with Hair


Wide Headband

Thin Headband

Halloween Pictures!

Needless to say, Sasha was a bit skeptical of the "trick-or-treating" concept, but when she figured out it involved taking candy for herself and seeing other children dressed up, she warmed up to the idea :-)

Make an on-line slide show at

Make video montages at