Friday, May 30, 2008

I know I should be sleeping

But there's a thunderstorm going on right now and I'm really enjoying being in a completely quiet house listening to the rain and thunder. It's so relaxing. :)

The boys had another round of shots this afternoon--3 each. I think we're getting close to being done, but we may have one more set. Because they were older when they started the vaccinations, they don't have to get as many doses. They did great and told the nurse "thank you" when she was all done. I think it tickles her to have kids tell her thank you for causing them pain. But we've really been working on manners with the boys, so they're getting better about saying thank you. Right now, they usually only remember if you do something for them and they forget to say thank you when they are given something. Gifts still require a little prompting. :)

Here's a video of Dima's latest abc's rendition. It's a little hard to hear, but he's getting a few more letters in.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Have passport, will travel

The boys' passports arrived! Amazingly enough, they even arrived with the correct names. You cannot imagine how happy that made me. :) Zhenya's passport actually arrived last Friday while I was home with Dima. Dima wanted to know when his "picture" would be arriving. His didn't make it until Tuesday of this week, so on Wednesday I sat both of the boys down and handed them their passports to look through. Then I put them away for safekeeping. LOL

One more day this week and then (as the boys put it)...base ball! :) They love to go to Mark's base ball games and we've got another one this weekend so they are very excited.

We went this afternoon and picked up dog food. We only recently found out that Petsmart carries prescription dog food, which is great since our vet stopped carrying ours. So the boys and I ran an errand to Petsmart. Let me commend the manager working...They didn't have the largest size bag of dog food that we needed, even though it was supposed to be delivered that day, so he gave us the smaller bag and adjusted the price/ounce to match the bigger bag. Then he carried that bag (20 lbs) plus the other bag I needed (40 lbs!) to the register, rang us up, AND carried the bags to the car. There are apparently benefits to having your cart full of small children. ;) :) Seriously, though, he was so helpful and I really appreciated it. I used that opportunity to talk to the boys about how nice it was for that man to help us, that he really cared about his customers, and that that was a good way to run a business. I figure it's never too early to start teaching life skills and helping them find appropriate role models. I certainly don't want them modeling themselves after most of our so-called celebrities!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Inspiration and a wonderful reminder of God's love for all of us, despite the imperfections each of us has. Please watch to the very end as he has some wonderful insights in his interview.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Dinner conversation

"Zhenya, what did you eat at school today?"


"What kind of doughnuts?"

(thinking) "...brown."

"Chocolate, or cinnamon?"

(more thinking) "...sin-ason."

(muffled laughter from mama and papa)

He tried a few more times (simamon, simama) before he started getting silly because Mark and I were laughing so hard. He was so serious about his pronunciations we couldn't help but laugh.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Happy Memorial Day!

First of all, I'd like to give a big thank you to all of our servicemen and women, especially my grandfather (Navy), my cousin Randy (Army), and my friends Scott (USAF), Ginger (USAF), Korri (USAF) and Mike (Army) (I apologize to anyone I know personally and may have left off--I'll add names as I think of them or you remind me! :)). Thank you all for what you do now or have done in the past!

We went down to Springfield, MO, on Friday night to see my family. We've been trying to get down there to visit my grandparents so they could meet the boys. Our summer weekends are filling up fast, so we did a quick one-day trip. Here's one of my favorite pics from the weekend:

As I mentioned previously, the boys have been needing a lot of sleep. Between sleeping a few hours in the car, then waking up and being moved into the house, they didn't sleep very well Friday night. We had breakfast with my sister, dad and stepmom on Saturday morning and then brought the boys back to my granddad's house to take a nap. Obviously, they (all 3!) needed it! :) We visited with more of my family in the afternoon and then headed home. We debated about staying an extra night and decided it would be better to go home, and after yesterday and today I'm really glad we did.

Yesterday was pretty typical for a Sunday--church, then an errand, then home for the afternoon. The boys did pretty well most of the day but seemed a little overstimulated and then we had some obedience issues in the evening. The boys were in bed by 6:45 and asleep within 10 minutes--and then slept until after 7 the next morning! I've been checking on them at night and they seem to be sleeping well, so I don't think it's sleep issues (i.e., they're not sleeping well or waking up often).

Today was rough. Dima had a meltdown at 11am--he got sent to sit on his bed for grabbing a toy away from Zhenya and completely lost it. His meltdowns are like very controlled temper tantrums--wailing, but no tears, flailing, hitting or kicking. He literally just sits or stands and wails. Normally he gets disciplined for this, but today I just said "you're obviously tired and need a nap", closed the bedroom door, and set the timer for 30 minutes. He was quiet within a few minutes and was quiet and in his bed the entire time. When I went to get him up he said he had slept a little bit. Then Zhenya took a short nap in the afternoon. Then Dima had another meltdown at bedtime. We had some friends over so they got to experience this with us. It involved me in the bathroom with Dima (that's where the meltdown started) doing discipline for 10 or 15 minutes. He wails and wails and wails and then just stops. It's a total control issue for him. He wails and waits for you to give in. Our best guess is that when he wailed in the orphanage they just left him alone, so he didn't have to do whatever it was he didn't want to do. Unfortunately for him (and sometimes for us), we don't give in. When we first got home, these tantrums lasted much longer and occurred much more frequently. We've actually seen a few weeks where he hasn't had any at all--we were averaging about one per week up until this weekend. Unfortunately, change of any sort seems to trigger him, and I'm sure being at a different house with different people triggered all kinds of things for him. That said, he's got to experience some of these things so he can learn to work through them and deal with his emotions appropriately. The crazy thing is we can go through these meltdowns and the ensuing discipline and when he finally finishes, he's fine and happy again. He really seems to need us to discipline him through this--to reinforce that this is not acceptable behavior and that we know that he can control himself (of course, currently he can't control himself, but we're trying to give him that confidence and help him learn that he does have the ability, he just needs to learn to do it!).

I think a lot of people see the boys and see their happiness and think everything is fine for them, but they (and we!) still have a lot of things to work through. While I tend to talk about Dima more than Zhenya, we're getting a fair bit of attitude from Zhenya lately and he's certainly no angel child. ;) I think some of his behavior stems more from just general testing, but we're trying to nip any disrespect in the bud.

Monday, May 19, 2008

It never goes as planned

I was supposed to go into work for four hours today. I never made it.

The boys had their first dentist appointment this morning at 9am. I LOVE their pediatric dentist (the website is under construction), despite the two hours I spent in the waiting room this morning. I really thought it was going to be a quick first visit--count and clean, maybe half an hour each. And I was a little nervous as they don't let the parents go back with the kids. I turned over my boys, not yet home for 5 months, hardly speaking comprehensible English, to complete strangers who were going to poke and prod around in their mouths. Sigh. But I did it, and two hours later, they had complete x-rays for both of the boys, they had cleaned all of the iron stains off of Zhenya's teeth, and the boys loved it and are ready to go back! Both boys had a completely clean dental bill of health--no decay at all and no apparent problems with their developing permanent teeth. Dima should be getting his 6-year molars in towards the end of this summer, according to the x-rays.

So the boys made it to school at noon, and I spent a little bit of time tracking down Dima's class, who had walked to the local library. I got everyone deposited and realized that with my commute, by the time I got to work I'd have to turn around and come get the boys.

It's been kind of an up and down few days (or as the boys say, up-up-up-down-down-down--every time we go up or down a hill). We've had some great times and some not-so-great times, which I think is probably par for the course. Lately, though, the boys have been really tired. I've been mentioning it to Mark for the past couple of weeks, but we hadn't decided what to do. This past Friday, we had a graduation party to attend. Since we knew the boys would be up late, when we got home from school I read to them until they fell asleep. They slept for about 45 minutes at which point Zhenya woke up crying. All I could get out of him was that he wanted a Kleenex, so I told him he was welcome to get up and get one. By this time Dima was also awake, and so they both got up to play for a little bit before we left. I don't even know what happened, but within 5 minutes they were both a weepy mess and I sent them back to their bedrooms, where they both started wailing. I opted to let them cry it out, and after about 5 minutes Dima wasn't crying anymore (he was really only crying in the first place because Zhenya was). Once Dima figured out he didn't have anything to cry about and he could be out playing, he stopped crying and was sitting on his bed just watching Zhenya. I opened the bedroom door and asked Dima if he was ready to come out, and he hopped off his bed and came to the door. As he walked by he said, "Mama, Zhenya loud," with a somewhat bewildered expression on his face. :) :) I asked Zhenya if he needed or wanted anything, and he shook his head no. I asked him if he just wanted to cry for awhile, and he nodded. So I told him whenever he was done crying he could come out and play and left him in his room. He cried for a good 10 minutes--not wailing, just crying. Then he came out and wanted a hug. I'm not sure if this is some grieving starting in or not. It didn't seem to be a bad dream or anything he could vocalize.

That was sort of a long tangent from the tiredness.

Continuing...they went to bed late Friday night but slept well and got about 10.5 hours of sleep. Saturday was baseball (and I got a massage in the morning!!!) and the boys were out playing all day, so we put them to bed at 6:45 pm. They were asleep within a few minutes and slept until 7 the next morning. Sunday was pretty normal, but their behavior still seemed to show that they were tired, so we put them to bed again at 6:45, and they were both asleep within 10 minutes, and got up at 6:45 this morning. I put them to bed again tonight at 7 pm, and they were both asleep by 7:15. I don't know what to make of it. They are playing outside a lot more now that the weather's nice, so maybe the extra physical activity is taking its toll. It makes such a difference in their behavior when they get enough sleep that I really want to make sure we're giving them that opportunity.

Diana: Yes, Dima is still doing OT. It's going okay. It's hard to see if progress is from therapy when he's only going once a week and they're focusing on a lot of the same stuff at school. We're going to keep it up for awhile and we'll probably reevaluate at the end of the summer. At this point, they have some pretty lofty goals for him so we'll see how much progress he makes towards those.

Unrelated to OT, Dima can now recognize all of the letters of the alphabet except K, which he usually confuses with X. And the alphabet song goes "A, B, C, D, M, N, O, P, W, X, Y, Z" with occasional other letters thrown in depending on how long he's singing. ;)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Happy summer birthday!

In Dima's class, they celebrate all of the summer birthdays in May, and Dima's celebration was last Friday. As far as we know, the boys have never celebrated their birthdays. I don't think Dima had any idea that the celebration was for him, but he thought it was great that they got to eat cake and he had his picture taken. :) I had made a pencil brownie/cake for his class and they were to eat it right before school ended.

So after school I get this...

"Mama, cake uh-oh fall," says Dima with a big smile on his face.

"Your cake fell?"

"Yes! Fall..." here some hand motions that look like Dima dropped the cake!

When Mark got home, we quizzed Dima some more...

"Did Mrs. H eat cake? Did Emma eat cake? Did Isaac eat cake?..."

"Yes, yes, yes...cake fall" (still with a big smile)

So our guess was that somehow Dima had dropped the cake. We were only hoping that everyone did actually get to eat some of it. So afterschool this week I asked Mrs. H about it. He did indeed drop his cake! They had all had cake and there was only a small part left. Dima was bringing home the leftover cake as well as a flower pot he had decorated for Mother's Day. He wanted to help carry something, and Mrs. H (wisely) did not give him the flower pot. He carried the cake on the cardboard it was on a few steps before he leaned forward and it slid straight onto the floor.

The boys always want to help, which we love to encourage, but we usually only give them non-breakable items (Dima carried a gallon of milk one time and fell on it and smashed in the side--it didn't spill, but needless to say we don't give them anything to carry that needs to be handled less than roughly).

Anyone have any suggestions for training a child to be more aware of his body and surroundings? :) :) And yes, growing 4 inches in 4 months certainly doesn't help with the clumsiness, but we really need to work on teaching the boys to be careful.

**Oh, and I added translation links to the blog for any international readers (scroll down and look on the left). Click on the language of interest and it will translate our blog into that language! If there's another language you'd like listed, let me know and I will see if I can add it (not all languages are available yet, but there are a lot!).

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The boys' first camping experience was just that...

Our new tent is waterproof.

It is not, however, capable of withstanding gale-force winds. More on that later.

We had a great weekend at our church retreat at Camp Mihaska about an hour southwest of St Louis. The boys had their first experiences sleeping in a tent and sleeping bags, which they loved. We had a campfire the first night but it was pretty late so the boys got to see it but only briefly before they went to bed. The boys had lots of firsts this weekend--miniature golf, basketball, hockey, soccer (the last three all at once!), and paddleboating.

Friday night was great--cool but nice and perfect weather for camping. Mark built a campfire and we roasted marshmallows and had smores after the boys had gone to bed (way past their normal bedtime). Saturday we played most of the day with some group activities thrown in. We all took a long nap in the afternoon during a brief thunderstorm. I love napping during afternoon thunderstorms. :) Saturday night it really started raining hard. We watched the talent show and one episode of the Jetsons with everybody and then decided to head back to the tent since it was getting pretty late. It was still raining but not as hard, and we needed to decide if we were going to stay in the tent or move into one of the dormitories for the night. We carried the boys back to the tent (for speed) and found it to be nice and dry, so we went ahead and bedded down for the night. However, about midnight we woke up to really strong winds. Since the ground was so soft after all of the rain, the wind pulling on the tent pulled the tent stakes out of the ground. Come to find out, our tent's not very stable if it's not staked. ;) So Mark went outside and restaked the one corner that had come out. The winds died down a bit, and we went back to sleep (the boys never woke up). Then at 2 am (happy Mother's Day to me!), Mark and I were awakened again by the tent blowing in on us as the stakes had been pulled out again. Mark restaked as much as he could, and then moved his sleeping bag to the corner that was causing problems to hold it down. Even with him there, the wind was blowing hard enough that it was literally flattening the tent on us, and then the tent poles would pop it back out when the wind let up. I was standing inside the tent holding it up and it was blowing down around me. At one point, Dima woke up and sat up (he was a little concerned, understandably, that the tent was laying on his face!). I told him to lay down (I was afraid he would get hit with the poles and it was easier for us to manuever the tent if he was laying down) and he obeyed immediately--and that is reason number 812 that we have been working on immediate obedience. After half an hour, Mark and I gave up and decided we needed to move inside. There was just no way with the winds as strong as they were that we could keep the tent standing, and it didn't seem very safe to have it laying on our faces. ;) At this point, Zhenya was still asleep. :) :) I stood up in the tent to try to hold it up enough for us to get stuff out, and I handed Dima to Mark to put him in the car. I then had to find Zhenya (he was buried in the tent that had collapsed!) and handed him over as well, and then grabbed our sleeping bags out and threw those to Mark too. As soon as we had our basic necessities out, we dismantled the tent in about 15 minutes and threw it in the back of the car and found ourselves a quiet corner in one of the main buildings. The boys were back asleep within about 15 minutes of getting settled in. The very strong winds continued on into the next day, so it was a good decision to move inside when we did. The tent wasn't damaged, nor were we, so all's well that ends well. Oh, and the boys think it was a great adventure. They tell everyone about the "tent, uh-oh, fall" complete with hand motions to show it falling over. Particularly funny since Zhenya slept through almost all of it. LOL

Sunday we had church in the little chapel at the camp. I've been anxiously waiting for the boys to start singing along with us, but I know they don't know the words yet to most of the songs. So you can imagine my surprise when Dima was singing along with me. Some of you may remember this post about a dream I had. We weren't singing the same song, but it was a great Mother's Day present all the same. :)