kaluga park

kaluga park

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Summer Fun

It's hard for me to find the time to write and to feel like I have info worth reading. But, it is fun, at least for me, to read back on the progress that Vasa is making and we are making as a family.  We are approaching our year anniversary of our pick up day-so crazy-and our court day has passed.  It was June 3.  We have now officially been Vasa's parents for a year.  He has made so much progress.  He speaks very well, I think, especially if you know that he has only been speaking English for a year.  He uses his pronouns correctly now and is starting more conversations.  His latest conversation starter--what is your favorite food?  I respond (homemade chocolate chip cookies or pizza) then ask him and he answers either a banana or ga-loot (russian word for yogurt).  It has been one of the few words he has hung on to.  We need to get our rosetta stone going or something to expose it to him again.  He really is just lacking in vocabulary when it comes to speech--mostly from lack of exposure.  Example--today he sees someone's fan on the ground outside and says, what is that?  One of his sisters also told him about what a limousine was.  Each week, he seems to know just a little bit more.

He is very outgoing.  He has to comment during any conversation--even if he knows nothing about the content.  He is also in the 3 year old why stage.  We must hear that word 75 times a day.  One of yesterday's conversations--I say-we are going to swim today at the pool.  Why?-v  Me-because it is fun. V-I want to go to the car pool.  Me-I've told you, car pools are not pools.  When your friends go to carpool at school, they are not swimming.  Their moms just don't come in to get them like I do.  We pick up your sisters in the car pool-a teacher just puts them in the car-there is no pool.  V-why?  Because we have to pick them up.  Ok, honey, let's head to the pool. V-why?  You tell me why?  v-because I like the pool.   Circular conversation going nowhere.

He is very imaginative.  He is constantly arresting us for doing things and taking us to jail.  I have to pretend I'm mommy bird and he is baby bird.  He lines up chairs and says he is on a train.  He likes to pretend we have alligators or sharks threatening our lives.  He has enjoyed having his sisters to play with this summer.  He keeps taking dd's new play high heels.  He wants them to pretend that they are mommies.  When we went to disney world a few weeks ago, he wanted to have the pirate paint on his face.  It was really cute when he kept saying, "Ho, ho, ho".  We had to say, no, that is santa.  Pirates say this...

He has a very contagious smile and we have had many people tell us that they want to take him home.  Especially when he adds the word my in front of their name.  It does melt your heart.  He is a natural charmer and wants all eyes on him.  He is an entertainer.  He is also very loving--he doesn't like to see anyone upset.  He wants to fix it.

We have started swimming lessons this week.  Have to brag and say he is the star student.  He is doing great.  I think he loves the clapping and attention from us that he gets, along with being so proud of himself.  He is grinning ear to ear each time his turn is over.  The other children cry the whole time.  He has a little advantage, because I asked her to put him in the 3 year old class because he has had no lessons.  Probably helps that he has 3 big sisters that he wants to be like.  I think he is also surprisingly gifted in physical stuff.  I was shocked to see him skipping the other day.  He can also throw a ball pretty hard.

Our struggles right now--he is hard headed and gets impulsive late in the day when he is tired.  He gets in trouble for the same things over and over.  Minor example--Today, we picked up an ice cream cone.  We have had a lot of trouble getting him to eat-talk about that in a minute-so I was thrilled when he said he liked it.  Two minutes after we have picked up the cone in the drive thru, I look in my rear view mirror and notice that there is no cone in his hand.  Where is your cone, Vasa?  I'm not hungry anymore.  What did you do with it?  I put it down there.  Vasa, what are you supposed to do with your trash in the car or food?  Give it to you.  Why did you throw it down?  I don't know-I was finished.  Gross.  No wonder my kids say my car smells.  Dried up milk products in the floorboard can stink up your car.  Not to mention that I really wanted a lick of that cone... Sadly, he is learning responses from his sisters--today at the pool when I got on to him about something he said, "But I didn't do anything!"  Kind of funny, too.

We are also still struggling to get him to eat.  We went to the doctor and he had not put on a pound since January.  He is still on his medicine for latent tb and will be until the first of August.  I am still convinced that it has to suppress his appetite, because he could care less about eating.  He would live on drinks, fruit, and yogurt alone if we let him.  He put his head on the table today and cried when I made him eat two chicken nuggets from chick fil a.  We have been giving him more pediasures, yet his weight hasn't really gone up.  He is so active, though.  He runs and plays hard.  We are also swimming a lot now, so I worry that he won't put the weight on that he needs.  I was discouraged today when I read a friend's blog about her child growing 7 inches since they picked him up a year ago.  Vasa has grown a little over 3.  Hoping, though, after he is off the medication that his appetite will pick back up.

I am worried about school next year.  He will go into 4 year old preschool next year, and I worry that I should have kept him in the 3 year old class. Mainly because he still doesn't stay attentive for more than a few minutes doing table work with me (probably because working on your name and letters is boring) and he also still only knows a letter or two.  We have worked and worked on letter a.  He told me yesterday it was called circle and a stick.  He does know v, he knows his colors, shapes, and a few numbers.  I know we'll get there.  I just need to let go the worry and concern of possibly having to repeat him.  Probably a pride thing for me more than anything.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

4 year checkup

Took Vasa for his 4 year checkup.  Tried not to be discouraged about him losing a pound this month (sigh), but he has grown at least 3 inches and gained 7 pounds in the 9 months we've had him.  He was at the 10th percentile on both height and weight, so we are pleased he is on the chart.  He is now eating pretty well, but I will probably continue his carnation shakes for a little while.  The doctor said to not expect him to ever get above the 25th percentile--may have had short parents.  Poor thing got 6 shots.  He did very well--still doesn't really produce tears when he is mad or upset.  Yet, he did milk it all day long.  I just ordered a "baby sling" that can carry toddlers on your back up to 60 pounds.  I was wishing two days ago, after his shots, I had the sling.  He told me that his legs were shot and he couldn't walk--all day.  I toted him from here to there.  Got old, but it was nice that he wasn't running off or anything :).  He actually sat on the floor and watched me cook for about 20 minutes.  I have never seen him sit for that long and do nothing.

That night, he woke up screaming and yelling for mama (thought that was a good attachment sign) and had a 103 fever from the shots.  Always so scary when any child's fever gets that high.  It's also the first time that I think Vasa has ever had a fever with us.  We gave him Advil-that was what the lady told me was best.  Vasa said before he took the medicine-"No, medicine makes me sick!"  Poor thing, he has had so many medicines since he got here for his tb and now his shots that have bad side affects that he actually thinks that we are giving him medicine that will make him sick instead of better.  Hate that.  To make it worse, didn't think about Advil on an empty stomach and he threw up in the sink.  Now adding to his theory of medicines making you sick.  I asked Josh, "What if he has a fever seizure??" Josh slept with him the rest of the night.

The next day he was much better, but I only got him to take the tylenol by saying, "I can't send you to school unless you take your medicine."  After school, he flat refused to take more.  So, he settled for the 101 fever instead of the Advil--tried to bite my lip and not throw out too many of the "You'd feel better if you would just take it" comments.  After school, he told me an ambulance needed to pick him up because he was sick.  Thought that was pretty smart.  At bedtime, we again gave him no option.

Last cute comment--were running errands yesterday for his sister's birthday party.  He again was saying his legs wouldn't work.  He had to tell the store's workers that he got shot in the leg.  The worker responded, "The doctor should give you candy or money for each shot."  Vasa comments back, "I like money."  The lady thought it was very funny--don't we all like money when we have it.  Maybe I could use it for faster shipping on the baby sling.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Try and Make Me

Had to have that as my title.  I am reading this book (for the second time) called try and make me by Levy and O'Hanlon.  Love it--love it even more the second time around.  He talks about that kids 2-12 are motivated by achievement, friendship, or control.  Well, the book is written for parents of those that are motivated by control--I have one biological child like that and now one adopted child like that.  He may not stay that way, though--some of his may be more of a survival instinct-he is a fighter/survivor for sure.  But this book defines my 2 kids to a T and also gives so much practical, usable ways to manage their behavior. For a few years, we had a child that played us so well like a fiddle, and it was hard to know how to parent. So many books you read are full of such warm fuzzy things that just didn't work for her.  This book saved my sanity.  And, this book continues to help me now deal with a precious, grieving four year old that takes such pleasure at times in doing what he wants to do instead of what we need him to do.  But, with love, prayer, and this book, I think I will make it.  He is now taking a nap, but this book has given me back the, "I win--you are not in charge."  I think this is such a great book for adoptive parents and should be required reading!  Ha ha-too bad I don't make that call.

Can't remember where I left off last blog.  Vasa's eyes are healing nicely after his surgery.  We are working so much now on practicing the -please look at me or whomever is talking--especially now that both of his eyes can do this-Yay!!  He is finally eating and putting on weight and height now that he is on the pill for his latent tb.  Strange how just a change to pill form could make such a difference on appetite.

He has been in school now 3 days a week for a month now.  He is doing great!  He is busy and has to be reminded to sit, but I am pleased so far with how it is going.  So nice for me, too to have a little bit of time to myself to catch up and breathe.  His teacher has been so patient and so positive about his progress in the classroom.

His language is continuing to improve.  I am looking forward to him being able to give me more descriptions about his day.  I want to know what he does and who he is playing with--that kind of thing. He is not there yet.  He just tells me things like they didn't go outside and that he didn't listen--not sure which things are true and what isn't :).

Haven't heard so much any more about the -who loves me phase.  Now lately I seem to be hearing a lot about who does and doesn't have what body parts and that he likes his--apparently he likes his and thinks it is big.  He asked me if I liked it, too.  Well, my June Cleaver self just tries to say, I love all of you.  Now please put your clothes on.  I told Josh that my fear is that he will show up to school and tell his teacher that his mom loves his big ___.    I am trying to teach him that some topics may not be appropriate to talk about to people besides mommy and daddy.    Well, he is now crying and up from a very short nap, but at least he got a little one.  Must go!

Monday, February 6, 2012

A few pictures

Vasa turns 4!

Wow!  He is now 4!  I felt this ultimate pressure, at first, that he needed to have it all figured out because he is now the old age of 4.  But, I'm trying to relax and be "cool" with the fact that it is o.k. that he still acts like a preschooler and not a responsible child :). He had a good time at his party.  For months, he has asked when it would be his birthday--he has seen his sister and his cousin have their parties.  So it was sweet to see him have the chance to blow his candles out and open his presents.  What is too funny now is he insists that many, many things around here he got for his birthday.  We'll watch a Barney video--vasa will say, "I got that for my birthday."  No, not that--we've had that.  He will put on clothes--Vasa will say, "I got this for my birthday."  No, not that--you had that.  Too funny.  His favorite items from his birthday-his police car power wheels and his cowboy boots.  He is also pretty darn cute in his police uniform.  He makes you call him policeman and says he is protecting you.  He was wearing his outfit in a store the other day and someone asked him his name.  He said--policeman.

Things to celebrate--my sister in law and brother in law adopted a baby boy (gabe) from the states--he is beautiful and they made it home in time for the party!!  He is such a lucky boy-he has some of the best people as parents (funny, love the lord, etc...)--his parents adore him and I'm in love as well.   My family is just as lucky to have all of them, too.

I have been a little panicked the last month or so because Vasa had lost a pound.  Josh and I went on a wild frenzy where most things revolved around how many calories (healthy ones) we could get him to consume.  I am pleased to say that he gained 3 pounds at his last doctor's appointment.  They were able to finally put him on a pill for his latent tb since his weight was up--it was much easier to crush and put in a spoonful of pudding than getting him to choke down the 3 teaspoons of syrup that he didn't like.  We think we have only 5 more months on the medication Yahoo!!

Vasa had preschool, part 2 again last week.  Started off the week by continuing to walk out of the classroom or into the bathroom whenever he pleased.  After a few days,  I am proud to say that today the only problem they had is that he didn't want to line up after playground time.  One threat of calling his mother and he lined up!! I am still grinning ear to ear.  He is just going a few mornings a week, so it gives him some time to make friends and learn some things, yet we still get our time together.  Loving the fact that he wants me to hold him often, gives me kisses, asked me to hold his hand, etc.. Think those are good signs of attachment.

Wednesday, Vasa will have surgery on his eye.  He has an eye that turns out-strabismus-doesn't happen all of the time but enough that they said it needs to be fixed surgically.  He also has something called double elevator palsy--love the name.  It basically means one of his eyes won't look up.  Feel like the bad mom that the doctor had to point it out to me before I noticed. Sigh.  This they won't fix, though.  They said it shouldn't affect his vision and will be less noticeable the taller he gets.  Hoping all goes as planned and praying that he won't need another surgery any time soon.  Feeling so sorry for him that he will be poked and prodded again.  But, it will be nice to have both eyes looking at me and not having to think about which eye I should be focused on.  I'm thankful it will be fixed before he begins to get teased for it or his vision becomes affected.

We are struggling with a few things, but are common things, I think, for some preschoolers.  I have two children who can get "the look" from us and they straighten up right away.  I now have two children (including Vasa) that don't get or don't care about the look.  They are a little more difficult at times to parent and require you to be on your game--that parenting game.  I have to say, though, that I am so thankful to have been actively parenting a child like this before Vasa came.  This type of child can be so funny and keep things interesting at all times, but you have to be creative and on top of things--sometimes even foreseeing challenges before they happen.  Example--a full bottle of shampoo for these children may scream, wow!  I could make a bunch of bubbles if I dumped this entire bottle in the water!  It doesn't automatically click to use just a little because mom will hit the roof if the whole bottle is empty when she enters the bathroom.  They see the fun involved the the bubbles as trumping the getting in trouble part, I think.  Being a rule follower myself (on most rules that I deem important), it makes no sense to me that this wouldn't occur to everyone.  Yet, it doesn't.  My absolute favorite book that I need to read again is a book called, I believe, You Can't Make Me!  It is a wonderful book that gives such practical, useful information--useable information when you are feeling like your children are outsmarting you.  It makes you feel like the parent again and less like "herding cats."  Vasa still has the I don't want tos--he is still learning the drill where even if you don't want to, you have to b/c mommy and daddy said.  It is sweet, though, to hear him say, Mommy helps me.  Daddy keeps me safe, Mommy and Daddy take care of me... M and D love me.  Kind of reassurance for him that these are good things and, yes, that it is ok to love and trust us.

Other thing that I still see is a struggle is that the boy still has something I had read about common with adoptive kids.  He has a gas petal but doesn't seem to have a brake petal when he gets tired.  He gets "the crazies" when he is tired, having little self control.  You have to remove him or pick him up/keep him still and almost let him regroup.  Each month, it seems less frequent.  Funny thing--he hates naptime and often refuses to get still.  Mean mommy makes him get still before he is allowed to get out of the bed--just 5 minutes and you can get up.  Enough time to rest and regroup--even just for a few short minutes.  The funny part is within seconds of getting still he falls asleep.  Probably another reason that he refuses to get still.  He knows he will fall asleep and as he says, "I don't want to" don't is pronounced dow-n and won't-woan't.  Sweet thing.  His English is sounding so southern that it is probably a bad reflection on us.

Have to brag on my husband a bit before I wrap it up.  I have the world's greatest husband.  I went to San Diego with my mom and sister over the weekend and he held the fort down wonderfully.  First off, he told me to spend money on myself--not many husbands that say that.  He helped pack my suitcase, slipping in some notes that I found while unpacking--such sweet notes like I miss you already and such.  He said the weekend went well--no calls from him with a stressful tone.  He didn't feel the need to clean up my "mess" while I was gone--he didn't even put up the folded clothes on my dining room table--such a feat for him, b/c he doesn't like clutters and messes--cute thing walks in some days and starts putting stuff away--forgetting to say hello (well, maybe not quite that bad).  He allowed himself to enjoy the kids and just take care of them.  When I got home, all of the kids handed me flowers at the airport.  Came home and he had baked a cake and made home made ice cream.  What a guy!  When I got home from the zoo in San Diego, I took my shoe off and it had a note in the bottom of it-funny missed that one before.  He is also the best at cheering anyone up.  Ava was down about something the other day and Josh pretended he was showing her a new karate weapon-the chinese woop up on you or something and started swinging Ava's karate belt around her making karate noises--she instantly lit up--too bad he whopped her in the face with the chinese woop up on accident, leaving a red streak on the side of her face.  She didn't seem to mind at all.  She still had a big smile on her face when I told her to be sure to tell her teacher tomorrow if the mark was still there the next day, please tell your teacher, "yes, my dad hit me, but no, it wasn't like that--just demonstrating the chinese woop up weapon and got carried away."    He is such a charmer--but so loving in so many ways--in not only his words but his actions as well.  I love you, Josh, and I am so thankful you are my best friend and husband.

Friday, December 30, 2011

What a Christmas!

We have had such an amazing year in 2011!  Our girls are growing up to be sweet little ladies, like their precious Mom, and we have my little man with us too.  We had a wonderful Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Gathering with our extended families was a real joy this Holiday season as we were able to introduce sweet Vasa to everyone.  He did well meeting and playing with his cousins, Aunts and Uncles. 

Christmas was a new treat for Vasa too.  He adapted pretty quickly to the process.  He would wake up each morning with the girls and hunt for Alvason, our Elf, he loved looking for Baby Jesus everywhere and for Santa.  We met with Claire's god family and he was shocked to see that Santa, better known to us as Uncle Dennis.  Vasa jumped to be held by Uncle Dennis and repeatedly told everyone that he was Santa.  Uncle Dennis has a longer white beard so he fits the bill. 

As Christmas day approached Vasa and the girls helped Claire bake cookies, cakes and other fun Holiday treats.  He was happy to sit on the counter and lick spoons and beaters.  He is a natural, just like my girls, when it comes to baking and eating the leftovers.  I think all the kids were happy with their gifts from Santa and from all the family.  As usual, it was a bit over the top because we are lucky to have such great relationships with our extended family and everyone is so giving.  We were able to enjoy time with my family at my Mom's house and with Claire's family at Gigi's river place. 

DD and Vasa both received glider bikes from Santa and DD rode her bike through the house almost all day.  Unfortunately, it was raining so she was regulated to the house with her riding but it didn't slow her down at all.  Allie got a poor man's Smart Board, or a Udraw for the Wii, and she spent several hours drawing and playing her game that came along too.  Ava received a ditigal camera and took nearly 50 pictures documenting all that happened on Christmas day.  She also took pictures of Claire's decorations which will help for next year when it comes time to put it all out again.  Vasa played on his bike but complained that it was broken because he couldn't understand that he had to balance the bike on his own.  He is used to riding his two firetrucks and car which have four wheels so it was a bit of a challenge but after watching his professional sister DD he is getting the hang of it. 

Our Christmas with my family and Claire's yielded great gifts as well.  Clothes, toys, projects and loud trucks all came home from our time together.  I think most of our loot has found a home in each bedroom and everyone seems to be delighted.  Gigi took the girls shopping on Wednesday of this week to spend their gift cards and just like her Aunt Jill, Ava Kate, stayed out nearly all day looking for just the right pair of shoes...maybe even more than one! 

As I reflect on 2011, I am amazed by the changes we have seen in our family.  Our Father is so gracious to continue to bless us with health and togetherness.  Claire's amazing Dad continues to get great results from his post cancer reviews, Claire's sister, Jill and her husband JD are well, their boys continue to grow strong and more incredibly smart each day, Gigi is happy to share her free time loving on her six grandchildren taking them out to eat and to the movies,  my folks are happy and enjoying retirement - mom cares for her mother, plays with our kids and gets to finally have down time to read and rest while Dad does whatever needs to be done for others and sings with his group of old guys, Jay and Kaci are settling into their search for the perfect child via adoption and we pray with them through that journey. 

Of all the changes that have been apart of our 2011, I continue to thank my heavenly Father for the peace that is my wife!  She is such a solid and anchoring part of me.  I have never known a more loving, caring, sweet hearted person than Claire.  For almost 18 years now this brilliant and beautiful girl has been an incredible gift to me.  She is an amazing example of Christ in my everday.  It is because of her heart for Him that we have been afforded our little Vasa.  She listened, even in the face of my concerns, to her heart as Father led her toward adoption. 

As a Dad, I am trusting that Father will continue to expand my heart and lead me to be the man he created for my four children and for my wife.  He has shown me what it is to love outside myself.  While this is against my flesh - which strives for everything selfish - Father keeps reminding me that I am not my own and that His plans are always perfect! 

My girls and Vasa are incredible gifts to me that I am becoming more and more in love with each day.  Claire and I have discussed the tension that is very real between our selfish nature and the progressive nature of Christ which is slowing rooting deeper in our hearts.  It is from this Christ like nature that I pray I live each day.  It is from this ever expanding heart that I love my children and seek Father's heart for them. 

I am a blessed man!  Christmas this year has been like no other and I hope and pray that 2012 brings Claire and I deeper into His heart!  Thank you for those who have been in prayer for us during our exciting & wild 2011 and through the past 6 months as Vasa has grafted into our family!  We could never express how vital your prayers have been for us.  I am the proud Papa of four incredible children and the luckiest man alive to have Claire as my wife and best friend!  Love to you all!    

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Photo Card

Faith Love Family Religious
View this 2011's most popular holiday card designs.
View the entire collection of cards.