Wednesday, April 30, 2008

New foods

Monday night the boys had their first taste of tuna fish (with mayonnaise and hard boiled egg). I wasn't sure how much they'd like it, so of course they promptly finished almost the entire bowl! I had to cut them off to save some for Mark. LOL

Last night was their first taste of quiche (with polish sausage bits), which they also loved but I don't think as much as the tuna fish. They were content with one helping plus some veggies and a zucchini muffin. :)

I was so excited yesterday when I picked Dima up from school. His class has finished learning all of the letters, so they had a letter party yesterday to celebrate and ate in their classroom for lunch. Dima was able to tell me everything they had for lunch yesterday without me already knowing what he was trying to say! This is huge for him, since I usually have to already know what's he's trying to say to help prompt him, or I have to spend a significant amount of time guessing what he's trying to say. Yesterday they had a "hot dog", "yellow chips" (the color is probably referring to the color of the bag, so I'm guessing they had Lays potato chips here), and "soup". Soup? "Yes, A-B-C soup, A-B-C soup" Ahhh, alphabet soup! :)

Dima also tattled on himself Monday night! We've been talking a lot lately about obeying and disobeying, and that the boys need to obey us and their teachers (we also talk about us as parents needing to obey God and the people over us at work). We've also talked about disobeying, but the boys have had a hard time understanding the difference in the words "obey" and "disobey" (we're now using "obey" and "not obey" when we remember). So on Monday night at dinner, Dima had a very sad face on and told me that he "obey Mrs. H little bit" that day at school. I was confused, and said he needed to obey Mrs. H a lot. And he shook his head very solemnly. I wasn't sure where to go from there so I dropped it, but when I picked him up from school yesterday I asked Mrs. H if he had disobeyed her a little bit on Monday. Indeed he had! Not enough to get him in trouble, but enough to be considered disobeying. I'm so happy to see that he is developing a conscience and understanding what it means to obey (and that he needs to do it!).

A little side note on the boys' language development: I often read post-adoptive blogs and people will mention that their kids are speaking predominately in English after a few months. This is true for our boys as well, but it does not mean we (and especially other people!) can understand them. I estimate we can understand about 80% of what Zhenya says, and about 50% of what Dima says. I wanted to throw that info in for pre-adoptive parents to help with language expectations after you get home. Yes, your kids may be speaking English within a few months, but they will most likely be missing a lot of the linking words and correct tenses (not to mention incorrect pronunciation!). Our guys are around a 2-3 yo level of expressive language. Really, that's not too bad considering they've only been even hearing English for 4 months!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Busy and productive

We swapped out all of the boys' winter clothes and took all of the storm windows off just in time for it to be 34 F last night. Crazy! The boys are wearing long sleeves to school again today and the heat was on yesterday and last night (we keep it set at 65 F and I hadn't bothered to turn it off yet, so it kicked on yesterday).

We've had an interesting week. The boys had a few rough days last week. I'm not sure if we had been a little inconsistent or if they just decided it was time to try a few things again, but we nipped all of the undesirable behavior in the bud and the weekend was really good. Some very good friends of ours from college were in town with their two little boys so we got to hang out with them. Lots of fun! Saturday night we babysat and had four boys under the age of 6 in our 900 sq ft house. I told Mark we definitely should have adopted more. ;) I'm not sure he agreed with that statement. :) :)

We've been trying to work the boys' schedule so that they'll be able to spend more time with Mark in the evenings. Unfortunately, he doesn't get home until 6:30 or 6:45, and the boys go to bed at 7.** Changing his work schedule isn't an option since physical therapy patients seem to like late afternoon appointments. So I've been trying to figure out a way to keep the boys up later and still have them get enough sleep. I thought maybe it would be enough to have some down time when they got home from school, so I've started having storytime with them when they get home. They lay down on their beds and listen to me read a chapter book (currently The Bobbsey Twins in the Country). Without fail, they are asleep within a few minutes. That wasn't the plan, but it does tell me that they are really tired when they get home from school. I do think that storytime gives them a chance to stop and decompress after school. I think it wears them out trying to function in English all day, so this is a good time for them to take a break and unwind a little bit before we continue the rest of the day. I usually only let them sleep about 30 minutes, and then we're able to keep them up a little longer at night. It's a constant adjustment trying to find the best schedule for them so we'll keep tweaking as we go. :)

**You have no idea how many people say "They go to bed at 7?!?" and I'm sure there are a few of you reading this saying that too. :) But 4 and 5 yos are supposed to get around 11 hours of sleep at night, so when they go to bed at 7pm and fall asleep by 7:30 and then are up at 6:45am they are getting a good amount of sleep for their age. We still have to wake them up in the morning but they wake up happy and ready to start the day, not grumbly and tired.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Do I have to post?

The longer I wait to post, the harder it becomes since I feel like I've got so much to catch up on. But I know a few of you out there who are probably wondering what happened this past week. I usually don't go quite this long without writing...

Brief summary (that's relative, of course):

  • Clothing drive for Ukraine with Master Provisions on Saturday (a week ago), in which we packed 2.5 tons of clothes to send to Ukraine. We love this ministry and have seen firsthand the work that MP does in Ukraine. If you are looking for a ministry to support, I would highly recommend them! The boys did great and we got some good laughs out of it, especially when Zhenya told me he was going to Ukraine for 5 minutes and then would come back and take his nap. :) :)
  • I was in a training class for work this week that kept me pretty busy. On top of that, I have to test for some software training certification by the end of this week, and study time has been scarce.
  • Mark has started a new job. I hadn't posted much about the whole process because we weren't sure where everything was going, but now that we're settled I feel comfortable going public. :) He continues to work at Children's part time, but he is working full time for a physical therapy outpatient clinic that specializes in hand therapy. He did a clinical at this clinic during grad school, so he's very familiar with the clinic and they with him. It's going to keep him busy, but is a really great opportunity.
  • I have some potential options at work that could use some prayer.
  • Zhenya bashed his head at school on Tuesday and ended up with a nice goose egg that has run the full range of bruise colors. According to him, it didn't hurt, and he will cry if it does so he must have hit it in just the right spot.
  • Dima had his first actual OT appointment this Friday, and it went really well. He was still very unsure when we first got there, but warmed up quickly and really enjoyed it.

I had posted previously about trying to incorporate more Christian music into our time together, and to that end I received a CD from Matt Maher which I've really enjoyed. Contemporary and upbeat but not too heavy for me. :) We also picked up a worship CD at Target (of all places) today. All of the songs on it are ones that we sing at church, so we help the boys learn the words and melodies. Speaking of singing, Mark and I will be ever so happy when Dima learns the alphabet song beyond D. He can recognize almost all of his letters now, but he doesn't know the song so we hear "A, B, C, D, A, B, C, D, A, B, C, D" in varying tones and with an occasional "W" thrown in (usually as "A, B, C, W...").

Zhenya has been more of a challenge lately. I really think he's testing some boundaries unrelated to the adoption other than that he hasn't had the opportunity to test them earlier. We're working on being consistent with discipline with him. As an adoptive parent, it's hard to balance the desire to give the boys all of the attention they've missed out on in their earlier lives and the need to raise them to behave appropriately (or what we think is appropriate).

Thursday, April 10, 2008


I don't like chicken soup. And, as I've thought about it the past few days, I've come to realize that I don't really like any broth-based soups. I like stews, and chilis, and cream-based soups.

That said, you have to question the wisdom of my planning to make tortilla soup from a recipe that is essentially just chicken and chicken broth (I know there are other recipes that are better, this just happened to be one I tried). I made it, and tasted it, and thought "yuck--there is no way the boys will eat this". So I cooked up some pasta and threw it in, and a few spices for good measure. I ate a small bowl (to set a good example, of course) and the boys devoured the rest of it. Seriously, they didn't leave any for Mark--they had THIRD helpings of it. I was in shock--and I'm really hoping that "pasta soup" doesn't become a new menu favorite. Of course, the toasted tortilla strips I made to go with it didn't hurt. They loved those even more than the soup.

And if you ask Zhenya what was in the soup, it's "water, icken, potsa, and uh-deeya" (water, chicken, pasta, and tortillas). :)

Monday, April 07, 2008

Parenting is not for the lazy

Mark and I attended a parenting conference at our church this past weekend. Rob Rienow from Visionary Parenting was the speaker, and it was fantastic. Two of the key points that really hit home for me...

We need to practice worship at home with our children to help prepare them for worship with the church on Sunday. This was an incredible slap in the face for me, since we have been practicing so many other things at home with the boys to prepare them for day-to-day life, but we haven't been practicing for church. We even practiced hunting Easter eggs at home, yet we don't spend time singing together--helping them learn the words to the songs--or praying together other than at meals. Those are things I would like to see changed in our family. :)

We need to disciple our children as much or more than we disciple others. Rob told of his realization a few years ago that he was setting aside time to meet with other men who needed discipling, but wasn't making the time to sit down with his own son and do the same thing. Don't get me wrong--I'm not saying we shouldn't make time to meet with others, just not at the expense of our children's time with us.

I would highly recommend hearing Rob (or his wife Amy) speak if you get the opportunity. You can also check out their website for lots of great ideas for incorporating worship and discipleship into your family.

I signed up to receive a free CD from Matt Maher. I'm not familiar with much of his music, but I've heard great reviews and I'm looking forward to the opportunity to share more Christian music with the boys (see above paragraphs!). Mark and I have a considerable amount of Christian music, but most of it is not songs that we sing in church so I'm hoping to beef up our collection along those lines.

Dima's first occupational therapy (OT) appointment was today. It went well, if you consider realizing that your child definitely needs therapy, "well". ;) At this point, the OT doesn't want to label him with a diagnosis, although there are a couple we're leaning towards, but it's clear regardless of a diagnosis that he would benefit from some therapy. We're working out scheduling but hoping to start getting him in once a week or so.


Sometimes I get so frustrated with a perceived lack of progress. It just feels like we'll never get to a place where the boys can communicate clearly. I want so much for them to understand that this new life is permanent, but it's going to take a long time before they really understand that. So sometimes it feels like we're just spinning our wheels. And then I see this...

The picture on the left was taken in mid-December 2007 for Dima's Ukraine passport. The picture on the right was taken yesterday for his US passport. What a difference a few months makes!

The picture comparison came about because I heard back from the passports. If we don't send in the boys' certificates of citizenship, they will "be forced to deny [our] application". The CoCs have been sent off for correction, and that was the picture comparison. The boys' original CoCs had pictures on them that were taken in Ukraine, but since the CoCs needed to be corrected I had to send in two more pictures so we had to get new ones taken.

And in regards to progress, I do see it. It just sometimes sneaks up on me. I love that Dima is finally starting to act like a little boy. He loves to pretend he's a monkey, and it's hilarious to watch.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


It started off as a small hole. I thought one of the dogs had been digging. Then, a day later, Mark commented on the "sinkhole" in the backyard. :) Yes, it is indeed a sinkhole. He went out to look at it and it was really deep and wide. So yesterday our landlord had a guy out to scope the line. Turns out our sewer line is no longer connected at all. Any water going out the line goes straight into the ground. The boys are going to be really excited when they see the backhoe that will be digging up our yard. :) There's a plumber here right now looking to see what needs to be done. And again, I'm so thankful we're renting. I don't mind doing repairs, but repairs of this scope on two houses might push my limits.

Yesterday Dima had a bathroom accident at school. I don't mind that he had an accident, but it is so frustrating to not be able to have him tell me what happened. All I get is "Mama, school toilet pants". At this point, he doesn't have enough Russian left to tell me what happened in Russian either. It's frustrating for him and me that he can't communicate. We think we know what happened, but it would be so much easier if he could tell us.

Dima finished breakfast early on Monday (a minor miracle, that) and I told him he could go play while he waited for Zhenya to finish. He said "no play, Mama, school!" with a worried look on his face. That boy does love his school--so much so that he'd rather go to school than play at home.