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.


Diana said...

When you find the magic pill that works for the discipline issues, PLEASE share!! This is an ongoing problem at our house, especially with our little one. Sometimes I wonder if he's really even getting it. But, then I look back at where we were when we first came home and can see that things have improved dramatically. But those learned survival behaviors are incredibly difficult to dismantle, that is for sure!

As for the sleep, I'm very glad to hear for all your sakes that they seem to be sleeping ok. There's nothing wrong with kids needing a lot of sleep. Just because the neighbor kids don't seem to need that much sleep doesn't mean yours don't. I know how exhausting it is for me to raise my kids. I can only imagine how exhausting it must be for them to change absolutely everything they've ever known.

We get the happy and cute thing a lot, too. They never see the "real" personalities and demons of the past that rear their ugly heads from time to time. That's why we keep on blogging and talking to other adoptive families...they actually "get it!"

Ashley said...

I know I will be looking for LOTS of advice from other parents when we bring our son home. Although we do have 2 bio children, I know there will be certain issues we will experience with Grisha that we haven't gone through before. Thanks for your honesty and letting us know that it is not all roses. I love how you and Mark do not give in. :) That's great! So many people do just to stop the tantrum. They will grow into great, Christian men because of you and Mark's guidance. Thank you for leading them and guiding these precious boys in the Lord. You are already seeing all they are accomplishing and years from now, you will see the progression even more. It is all so worth it. :) You are doing a great job.

I also LOVE the picture of your 3 boys sleeping...too sweet. :)

Mark and Courtney said...

Thanks, Ashley! It's really helped me a lot to read about other adoptive parents' experiences--the good and the bad. It's nice to know you're not alone. :) Even though our boys really have very mild issues, there are still things we deal with that are not normal for their age. As much as we can tell, our boys' issues are not related to any abuse or extreme neglect in their lives. Their issues simply come from not having a consistent upbringing in the early years of their life. It's amazing how every child's experience is different, and then their personalities play into how they process their experiences as well!
While you will have issues, I think in some ways it will be easier for you guys because Grisha knows what you are trying to do, and understands the process a little better since he is older. There will still be many challenges, of course! But God is faithful to bring our families together as He intends, and He is faithful to give us the strength we need to help our children! :)

Mark and Courtney said...

Diana, I would love to find a magic discipline pill for both of us! LOL I have a feeling that the discipline we use with our boys would not work on your guys because of their past. But our ways are not perfect, and I am continually praying that God will give me the wisdom to parent these boys. :)
I think your comment about their sleeping is right on. I think we are finally getting to the point where they are working on their English, not just absorbing it, and it's a LOT of work! I think just trying to function every day in what is still a new culture and a new language is very exhausting for them.

DoveFamily said...

What a precious picture. Praying for you guys as the boys continue to learn & grow in their new world.