kaluga park

kaluga park

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

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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Vasa-here with us over 5 months!

Hard to believe how many changes that Vasa has made in such a short amount of time.  I've put off the update mainly because of lack of time (4 kids and it is getting near christmas) and I don't feel like an great writer, so I'm afraid that things will come out the wrong way.  But, I'll try my best.  First of all, I can't say enough how proud I have been of my other children.  They are so incredibly sweet to Vasa and more patient with him than I am the majority of the time.  They include him, mother him, teach him, love on him, etc.. --it has just been a testimony to watch.  Vasa is incredibly loving and sweet to them, too-not to mention how cute he is--makes it a little easier.

Each day, Vasa's English is improving.   It is so funny to see what things will come out of his mouth.  He is so outgoing, too, so it has been a change for me--my girls are much more reserved in public places.  He continues to speak to someone until he gets their attention.  "Hey man!  Whatcha doin?  How are you?"  It is usually fine until he says hey man to a woman.  I keep trying to tell him, you can be friendly, but just say hey-not hey man, hey woman.   At first, I was afraid this was a bad attachment sign.  But, he is just outgoing and friendly I think.  He never stops talking and needs updates on everyone's status at all times.  He just asked me, "What's Granny doing?"  We haven't seen her since before Thanksgiving, so I'm glad my 3 year old is reminding me we need to pay her a visit.

I'm having to get used to boys.  I think a lot of the things he does, people say--that's a boy.  An example--he still likes to play dog.  Yet, now it doesn't bother me--it's not an activity for attention or coping, it is just something he does when he is bored.  He was quiet, so I walked in the dining room to see what "my son the dog" was doing.  He had a chewed up straw in his mouth.  One of my dogs had found it and chewed it up.  He had it in his mouth.  I said, "Vasa!  We keep telling you we don't put things in our mouth!" He says, "Vasa a dog!  Sparkle (our dog) do dat!"  Like-lady, you know this!  But, I have to give the speech about germs and choking.

It has been very sweet to hear him say now in the past month, mama loves me, daddy loves me, etc.. and anyone else that comes to mind.  He now willingly gives kisses and asks to sit in my lap--the lap thing doesn't last long, b/c he doesn't like to sit still, but it is still sweet.  I was happy to see him turn away hugs and being picked up when meeting some new friends and family members--thought that was a good sign.

He tested positive for tuberculosis-latent not active (lungs are clear and not contagious), but he is now on a medication he will take for 9 months.  It is a liquid and he hates taking it.  I don't think it tastes that bad, but he has to drink a good bit of it and he gets sick on the toilet about 2 hours later.  Last night, we have tried giving it to him at bedtime and we are hoping it helps.  We tried to switch him to the pill--heard it was a little easier with less side effects, but he doesn't weigh enough for the mg tablet--he has to gain 2 pounds to take half.  As far as the upset tummy, food helps a little and the doctor basically said--sorry about that!  I've been trying my best to fatten him up, but it's hard when he is sick to his stomach and is probably not absorbing the calories.  Keeping my fingers crossed that the night thing will work.  At his check up, though, we were pleased that he is now in the 8th percentile for height and the 10th for weight.  He is still a pretty good eater.  Loves, loves fruit--hard to put on two pounds, though, with fruit.

He is going to speech once a week--not sure the 30 minutes is helping greatly, but it gives me at least an idea of what he doesn't know.  We are trying to use more pronouns and positional words now and colors.  I'm having a harder time at speech than he is, b/c it drives me crazy to hear her ask him a question that I know he knows the answer, but he answers quickly without listening or thinking.   Like-"Do you eat a policeman--while pointing to him--Vasa answers, yes!" I think he might start school after Christmas, but my first choice in schools doesn't have an opening.  Little bummed--he just is getting a little bored if I am not pulling activities out for him all the time, etc..   I am so glad he is soaking it all up and wants to play with mommy all day, but it is hard to fold laundry and cook a meal with Vasa begging for mommy to play.  Trying to not let all of those household chores overwhelm me, but it is hard.  I have tried to be disciplined and even have some sit down time for school--it has been good practice and he loves any activity -for the most part-that we do.  Today he sat down and wrote some letters on his own--one was actually an A and one was an S-couldn't believe it.

Still working on what I think is an adoption thing--sit down if you get tired, read a book, etc.. He gets wild and crazy eyed and we either take a nap or have a quiet break in the dark with me holding him--think he has stimulation overload at that point.  In the beginning, though, I thought it was happening all of the time. Now it is getting better.  Always trying to guess--what is an adoption thing, a boy thing, a three year old thing, or personality thing.  He likes to be in charge and call all of the shots.  I probably don't let him call as many shots as I should--but trying desperately to make sure he knows who is in charge.  His latest when he doesn't want to do something is "Mommy-don't!!"  I even heard a ne kasool (russian for I didn't say) yesterday--I hadn't heard that one in a while.  I really haven't heard any Russian in a while.  Kind of sad, because I wished that we had known an affective way to help him adapt, bond, and keep his Russian somehow.  Hopefully, he can maybe pick it back up in the future.   So pleased that he is communicating so well, though.

He now tells us when he has to potty-hooray--and even goes most of the time at the house on his own.  He loves to sing (and talk).  His favorite song is still twinkle twinkle little star, but he sings many others now.  It was very sweet after church Sunday to hear him spontaneously sing Happy Birthday to Jesus. I had not taught him that-his sunday school teacher had.   Very sweet--he also tells me often, "Jesus loves me."  Makes me teary.  Jesus loved him enough to unite us as a family--we are so blessed.