Monday, June 30, 2008

Punishment starts with a P

Sometimes I'm so frustrated at the lack of influence we've had on the boys' first few years. Yeah, I know--not our choice. But we still have to deal with the consequences of that. :)

Today I picked the boys up from school and as I'm buckling Zhenya into his car seat, I notice that his shorts are wet in a very suspicious area. I ask him if he peed his pants and I get a long convoluted answer that basically consisted of he had to go to the bathroom on the playground and the teachers said no so he wet his pants. Ummm, no, not acceptable. I know why they wouldn't take him inside--there's not enough teachers per student if one of them goes inside, but it shouldn't be an issue since they usually take the kids to the bathroom before they go outside.

So, what do I do? Do I let it go and have my soon-to-be 5 yo thinking that if he can't find a bathroom it's okay to wet himself? Because that's the way it's worked for the last few years of his life. As long as no one knew, he was safe. And his teachers have no idea he wet his pants. I thought long and hard about this, and did end up disciplining him for wetting his pants. I'm still not sure it's the ideal response, but I certainly don't need him peeing his pants whenever he feels like it either!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Steps to attachment

No, we're not flooded out, there haven't been any more earthquakes, and we haven't fallen off of the planet (although Dima tried). I was in a training course last week and every free minute was gone. It was a crazy week and I'm glad the training is done. :)

It was a really good week, especially considering that our schedule was a little different. We were eating dinner a little bit later and I had to be careful to make sure I was ready to go with dinner right when we got home each night. The boys went to their first outdoor concert on Tuesday night. Mark and I played in the University City summer band last year and are playing again this year, but we're swapping around concerts so that one of us is always sitting with the boys. This week I played and Mark had the boys. Dima even participated in the conducting of the last song (they invite kids to come up and "help" conduct the last piece) although he didn't go up front, just stood at his seat and conducted. He's been conducting about once a day since then when we're listening to music. ;)

The real excitement of the week was on Friday. Our house is a little bungalow with a full basement and the basement steps are off of the kitchen. You walk down 3 steps to a landing where the door to the backyard is, then down about another 9 or 10 steps to the basement (specifically to the concrete wall of the basement). I was on the phone and the boys were putting their shoes on so we could go outside and work in the garden. Dima had finished so he went to the back door to watch the dogs outside while he waited for Zhenya. Apparently, he decided to play with the back door. As best as I can figure out, as he swung the door open, he held onto the door handle, and since the door opens over the lower steps the floor essentially fell out from under him and he fell down the basement steps. I heard him hit every. single. one. I instantly hung up the phone and went to the top of the stairs. He looked up at me and his face just crumpled into tears. I told him to "come here" and he walked up the stairs which gave me a chance to see that he could walk and that he didn't have any limbs sticking out at weird angles or a trail of blood down the stairs. ;) When he got to the top of the stairs he fell into my arms, crying, and I carried him into the living room. I let him cry for a few minutes and comforted him, but I could tell from the way he was crying that he wasn't in a lot of pain. So after a couple of minutes I asked him to stop crying and tell me where it hurt. He did, and the only place that hurt was a spot on his hip. I wanted to see how he walked (if his hip was really injured or just sore) so I asked if he could walk to the chair across the room and back and he said no. Zhenya was kind enough to demonstrate for him. ;) I asked again and he said no again, so since he was sniffling I told him to go get a kleenex (across the room!) and he walked over and got it. I'm such a sneaky mama. LOL He was/is fine and when Mark got home and the boys were going to bed I asked Dima to tell papa what happened today, and he grinned at Mark and said "fall down stairs!" Sigh. Boys.

There were two really good things that came out of that incident.
  1. Dima reacted just like any other 5-6 yo would have who had fallen down the stairs. He cried, he went to his mama for comfort, and then he recovered quickly when he wasn't seriously injured. Woohoo!!
  2. When I heard Dima fall down the stairs, my heart leapt into my throat. I was terrified of what might have just happened---not to him, but to my son. That distinction may not make any sense to someone who hasn't had to work on attachment with their child or children, but it was huge for me. That was the first time I had felt that kind of emotion--fear for my child, not fear for a child. It was a great experience, although I certainly hope it doesn't happen again any time soon. :)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A few pics

At the circus

On the new birthday scooter

After a much-needed haircut

Happy birthday boy!

Monday, June 16, 2008


I forgot to mention that we also celebrated Dima's birthday Sunday afternoon before the circus. He opened a present from us and a present from one set of grandparents, and I really think that was a good number for him. He was excited without being overwhelmed. We also hung a "Happy Birthday" banner over his bed. We did not, however, have cake and ice cream or sing. We just didn't get to it. :) I think the circus made up for it, though. Zhenya was pretty funny--I asked him to help me carry Dima's presents in, so he gave one to Dima and then said he would open the other one. I told him they were both for Dima, and that his birthday is next month. He didn't seem put out or upset at all, just excited for Dima and his presents. Dima will be getting a few more presents from family over the next few weeks, and a couple of those times Zhenya will also be getting presents in anticipation of his birthday in July--3 weeks from Thursday!

We have been so blessed with the boys' attachment to us. Their pediatrician did not anticipate us having problems since the boys had always been together and were attached to each other. Apparently it's only important that attachment to someone occur early in life; it doesn't necessarily need to be a caregiver. We still like to do a few things that encourage attachment, and along those lines I recently added something to our nighttime routine. After we've read books and their Bibles, one of them goes to the bathroom and the other sits on my lap. I snuggle him like a baby and both of the boys love it! When I'm holding them like that, I use that time to talk to them about being their Mama forever, and that Papa is their papa forever, and so on. Now they both like to say "Mama ever ever ever?" And I say "Yes, I am your Mama forever and ever and ever." They will both ask every once in a while, even in the middle of the day, and sometimes when I pick Zhenya up from school and he gets in the car he announces it: "Mama ever ever ever!" with a big smile on his face. :) I know they don't understand the concept of time, and "forever", but as my mom said, they understand the feeling.

For those of you who are pre- or post-adoptive parents, some of you may be wondering about my attachment. :) Did I immediately attach to the boys? No. In my opinion, it's nearly impossible to attach to someone you've just met. I felt compassion, and I liked them, but I didn't feel an attachment to them. My attachment to them has grown as I have cared for them and learned about them and their personalities, and as we have shared experiences together, good and bad. Fortunately or unfortunately, I'm not sure how I'm supposed to feel as a parent. ;) I know that I love the boys, and I know that my love for them grows every day. My perspective is to take things day-by-day and trust God to knit our hearts together as a family more each day.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


What a weekend! We started off with a meltdown by Dima first thing Saturday morning. Nothing like starting the weekend off well. ;)

  • Went to look at a house. We can't have any more kids until we have more bedrooms. The house was nice, but we're still looking.
  • Went to the Tower Grove farmers' market. Didn't buy anything as all I wanted was fruit. There wasn't much there and what was there was not cheap!!
  • Went to the zoo for a couple of hours. This was at the boys' request. Their school was having a carnival fundraiser this weekend, and the boys have been excited about going all week. But when presented with going to the zoo or the carnival, they chose the zoo!
  • Had lunch out (this was a bad weekend for eating out--as in, we did it a lot more than we like).
  • Went home, but did NOT rest at all (intentionally).
  • Went to a statue celebration for the park where Mark plays vintage base ball. They had asked some players to come out for "atmosphere" and I dressed up as well. This was the first time the boys have seen me in 1860's garb and they said I was "cute". :)
  • Went home, made a picnic dinner, and headed to Shakespeare in the Park. The play started at 8pm and the boys were asleep on the blanket by 8:30. They slept through the entire performance, including applause and intermission!


  • Church, of course! :)
  • Lunch out again. Pancakes, at Zhenya's request. :) They're starting to learn they can request things when we ask them what they want to eat. Although Saturday at the zoo all they wanted to eat was "water"--it was really hot!
  • Home to rest. All three of the boys slept for 1.5 hours. I cleaned. ;)
  • The circus!

Oh my goodness, I would have paid well over what we paid to watch Dima at the circus. Circus Flora is a small, European-style one-ring circus. They don't have elephants or tigers and it focuses more on acrobatics. The first half of the show, Dima watched but really didn't seem too thrilled--he was just trying to figure it all out. By the middle of the second half, he started getting it--this is fun! By the last act (trapeze artists), he was enthralled and his face was lit up like you wouldn't believe. He was smiling and laughing and kept turning to Mark and I and pointing out the people on the trapezes. The teenage girl sitting next to him thought it was hysterical. He really got it...that this is fun and he could enjoy it and there was no agenda--nothing to be afraid of, just a fun time out with all of us watching other people be silly and amazing and fun. It was such an incredible transformation to watch him go through. When we went to bed, Mark said he didn't think he'd ever seen Dima smile and laugh like that. He wasn't hyperactive or overwhelmed, just really happy and having a good time. I hope he always remembers his first circus.

The boys went to bed when we got home not too much past their regular bedtime, but for some reason they had a hard time going to sleep. ;) Hopefully they have a good day at school tomorrow and we'll be sure to get them in bed early Monday night.

Both Mark and I talked to our dads today and completely forgot to wish them Happy Father's Day! So Happy Father's Day to our special dads!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Do not worry...

Thanks for all of the encouragement! Becoming a parent is always hard, but jumping into discipline and dealing with past issues brings a whole new set of challenges. Thanks for letting me vent--I'm sure it won't be the last time. ;)

The circus won! We're going to Circus Flora on Sunday for Father's Day and Dima's birthday. Shh...the boys don't know yet. Mainly that's for Dima's sake. This poor kid has been tossed around so much in the past few years that change really gets to him. He does fine during the change, but if he knows something's coming, he worries. He doesn't need to worry, but he hasn't been here long enough to trust us and understand that the changes/surprises we have for them are almost always good (doctor visits excepted, of course).

As an example, after we had ice cream on Monday night, Zhenya rode back with Mark (he met us there after work) and Dima chose to ride with me. As we were driving, I talked with Dima about "surprises". When I picked the boys up from school on Monday, I told them I had a surprise for them (the circus, and later ice cream). Zhenya's eyes lit up--Dima frowned. I asked if they liked surprises, and Zhenya said yes with a big smile, and Dima said no with a worried look on his face. So when we were driving home after ice cream, I talked with Dima about the surprises we had had that day, and asked him if he liked them. He smiled and said yes. But I know he doesn't know what the circus is, so if I tell him we're going to the circus he will spend the next few days worrying over what that means and whether or not it's good. So he'll find out on Sunday so he can only worry for an hour or so. ;)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Life as a circus

Today as Mark was on his way to work, he was stopped by...elephants! Walking down the street! Do you know what that means?? (Other than extra work for the street cleaning crews. LOL) The circus is in town! Actually, it was only in town last night on its way through. Nevertheless, after school I took the boys to see the circus train, hoping we could catch a glimpse of some of the animals. We did not see any animals (other than a housecat in the window of one of the train cars), but I am nothing if not stubborn (just ask Mark!). So I drove a little further and we found the elephants! We didn't get too close due to a security car and a police car, but we did get to see them. The circus will be back in September, and I'm hoping to have free tickets for the boys by then.

Two of our good friends are moving to Colorado at the end of this week, so an impromptu gathering was held last night at Ted Drewe's. After dinner, the boys went straight into their pajamas and then we headed out for ice cream...oops, sorry, custard (the difference is not important to me but to almost anyone in St Louis it is). Of course, Dima's teacher was out again today, so between that, the elephants, and the ice cream (not the ice cream itself, just the change in routine) he had another meltdown last night. Mark got this one. :)

Dima's birthday is this Sunday--he will be 6! Mark and I have been debating what to do about his birthday. We don't do much to celebrate in general at our house, but since the boys have never (to our knowledge) celebrated their birthdays, we want to do something. We had talked about getting some of his school friends together at the park, but Sunday is Father's Day so I don't think we'd have very many people there, and we don't want to do anything big. So I think we've settled on just having a small cake at home as a family and giving him a present. Yes, a present. :) He will be getting presents from his grandparents and especially with Dima it is better to keep things small and simple. Although...Circus Flora is in town and I would love to take the boys. So we'll see. Maybe we'll do the circus for his birthday.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Then I cried

We had a pretty good weekend with lots of base ball. Mark's team hosted a festival this weekend for four teams so we spent a lot of time at the park. The boys did great--it helped that I took some big trucks for them to play with. :)

But apparently it was a little too much for Dima, probably compounded by the fact that his teacher was out today recovering from a car accident. Tonight as the boys were getting ready for bed he had another meltdown. In some ways they're harder to deal with now because they're happening so infrequently. I keep thinking we should be past this, but we're not. And in all honesty, we haven't even been home for 6 months yet. It's hard to counteract 5 years of neglect in 6 months. After a long and painful (for me) discipline session, I sent Dima to bed and broke down and cried. I hate that he has developed these survival skills that MUST be unlearned, and that he ever needed to learn them in the first place. It's not fair that a 5 year old child should deal with the emotions he has--and I know we have it much easier than many other families. We are blessed in that our boys do not have significant abuse in their early life, just a lot of neglect. For the record, I did not cry while I was disciplining Dima. I know better than that. :) :) The whole thing is just frustrating, and I worry that we're not handling it correctly or that there's something else we could be doing. Standard parenting questions, I know, but compounded by the fact that there is so much information missing. I just remind myself to take it one day at a time, and to pray a lot. I honestly don't know how people parent without God. Praying reminds me of His patience with me, and gives me the extra measure I need to work with the boys.

Tonya, if two kids really are the hardest I want to get some more kids quickly! LOL :)

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Happy anniversary to us!

Today was our 9th anniversary, and since it's a little hard to get away in the evenings, we both took off of work and spent the day together! We dropped the boys off at school and then had breakfast and played Settlers of Cataan with some good friends from church. Then it was lunch at PF Changs and an early afternoon showing of Indiana Jones. We had a great time and it was so nice to be able to spend the day together.

Here's to many more years with my best friend by my side. :)

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

What a week (and it's only Wednesday)

This weekend was another base ball game, but the boys were so tired that we only stayed for the first couple of innings and then went home to rest. They were so tired they didn't even protest! They slept for an hour and then we went back to the game.

Sunday was a shopping day, which the boys thoroughly enjoyed:

We got them a little better outfitted for summer with sunglasses, hats (they wanted red baseball hats like Papa), and sandals. They wore their sunglasses all through the store and it was hilarious to watch.

Monday, as Mark was getting out of the car at work, the car keys fell out of his pocket and he ended up locking them in the car. It wasn't a big deal, since the boys and I just went out to take him keys and we ate dinner at Cici's pizza as a family. It was nice. :)

Then today, I had my second flat tire in two months. I'm really getting tired of those. I had a huge bolt through the tire, and of course the spare was flat too. ;) It all worked out, but I'm exhausted.