Saturday, January 31, 2009

So much fun

Michael, Joseph, and his friend Carl wrestle around on the big mat.Joseph, Andrew (came home Jan 18th) and Carl.
Jonathan and his "older woman", Grace (came home on Jan 18)
Family picture time - check out the matching Purdue hats!
The Sevastopol kids.

We were able to spend the afternoon with a bunch of kids from Ukraine (and their adopted families) today. What a great afternoon! Many of these families had never met us but had heard our story and vice-versa. Joseph was able to reconnect with some of his friends from the orphanage and Jonathan made a friend in a beautiful "older woman" who just came home about 3 weeks ago. I think one of the best parts of this adoption process (besides bringing the yahoos home of course) has been the wonderful people we've met. It's invaluable having people to talk to who have been through the things we have and who have insight and wisdom. I love that these families invited us to join them today and that they welcomed us with open arms. We were especially excited for Joseph to reconnect with one of his best friends from the orphanage. Carl came home to Ohio from Sevastopol about a year or so ago. Apparently he has been telling his mom and dad that they needed to go back to Ukraine to bring home Roma. Imagine his excitement when he found out that Roma DID get to come to America! They were reunited today and after an initial warm-up period on Joseph's part, they had a good time wrestling around and playing like 8-year old boys. I love that we were able to give the boys a taste of home today. Most of the time they do great but I know there are moments when they are sick to death of hearing English and long for someone who understands every word they say. Again, what a blessing these families are to us.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Snow Days

He even has to look cool in the dentist's chair!
Yes, I really did wrap my son's hands and feet in Kroger bags and painters tape (we are out of duct tape). It kept the kid dry and for once he could be outside without Mom!
Dream on boys - we are NOT buying you a snowmobile!
Charity and Hannah wait for Uncle Brian to bring back Hannah's snowmobile (it rides smoother) so that Charity can take a turn.Jonathan and Uncle Brian. The goggles are as big as Jonathan's face but he LOVED that he got to ride too!
Michael and Joseph getting ready for rides on the snowmobile.

Well, we have had two snow days in a row. The kids are loving it but they are getting on their mom's last nerve. The three older ones can't get along for 5 minutes to save their lives. You would think with the amount of building materials (Knex, legos, lincoln logs, magnetix, etc) we have in this house that they could figure out some way to play peacefully for a while but apparently that is asking too much. There is never enough for each of them to have every piece they want. I'm tempted to toss them all out the door - kids included - and let them back in the house after the spring thaw! I also can't seem to keep up with the house when they are all home. I haven't been able to put my finger on the reason or the solution yet. I just know that Eric is going to be irritated when he gets home again tonight because the house will look like it has been ransacked by short people - oh wait, that is exactly what has happened. Maybe I'll just make them pick up one hour before he gets home and then I'll tie them to chairs. Of course I'll have to gag them because the whining and yelling will be more than this mom can take. Boy, I sound pretty violent! Please don't call CPS, I promise I would never harm one of these angels with the crooked halos. I think I just need a nap. The yahoos are so accustomed to their school schedule that even on snow days they are up before 6:30. That is NOT sleeping in.
In other news, we continue to check things off our list as far as the boys and their medical "stuff" goes. Joseph went to the dentist this week (thanks for seeing him John) and we were pleasantly surprised that he only had one cavity. There are some enamel issues to watch and we need to talk to an orthodontist about spacing but overall it is much better than we had feared. Jonathan had PT/OT this week as well. He did great but it was a long afternoon. He will be going back for each every week but we have scheduled them on different days in order to get the most out of him before he is too tired to cooperate. Thank goodness we aren't dealing with school for him yet. I can't imaging working that hard after being in school all day too. The first visit was mostly an evaluation. I can't tell you much about the PT part of it because we really need to talk to the ortho people before we have any kind of prognosis but the OT girl was thrilled and impressed with my little trooper. She said she see a lot of potential which did wonders for this mommy's heart. I just want this precious little one to accomplish everything he wants to do and be able to get in there on the same level as his brothers and sister. I'm going to be completely transparent here and tell you that having a "special needs" child has always been one of my biggest fears. There are so many things that fed this fear but ultimately they didn't matter. God began working in my heart from the moment we saw the pics of this little guy in the Ukrainian SDA office and he continues to shower us with blessing in the form of little Jonathan. Sometimes my heart catches when I think of what we would have been missing out on if we would have said "no" and left him there as other (Italian) families had done before us. I'm so glad that I actually listened to that still small voice and trusted God and His promises. The Bible tells us to care for widows and orphans in their distress and our Jonathan certainly fits the bill. I know God has had and will continue to have his hand on this child. I can't wait to see what He is going to do in his life.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Poor Jonathan

I don't often pity our youngest child. Yes he has some disabilities, but he is such a happy child and can pretty much do what he wants to do so I kind of "forget" about his limitations. The weather the past couple of days has made me feel a little bad for the poor kid though. He hasn't been able to go out to play with the others and it makes him so sad it breaks my heart. I try to make it up to him by playing with him or putting in a movie but he just wants to be out with his big brothers and sister. Even the dog ditches him for the great outdoors. I'm dreading the first big snow (where it isn't in the -degrees). He's going to hate that he can only be out if I'm with him. The shape of his feet make it very hard to find shoes as well so when it is cold he can't be out long. I'm hoping that the doctors can point us in the right direction and keep that beautiful smile on my boy's face. (Speaking of smiles, the bottom tooth got knocked out in the orphanage a few days before Eric picked him up. Apparently it had been loose though because the new one is coming in already - surprise!)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Let the (medical) fun begin!

So I took the kids to their pediatrician last week. Everything looks good on the surface. They are both small for their age - which we knew - but they appear very healthy. A Russian-speaking dentist is high on the list of priorities for Joseph and we will be starting OT and PT with Jonathan on Monday. Both boys go to Riley in a couple of weeks for their international adoption clinic and then Jonathan goes back on the 9th to see their ortho doctor. We will follow it all up with another visit to the pediatrician on the 11th to pull everything together and come up with a plan of attack for Jonathan. We are really hopeful that with therapy he will gain quite a bit more independence. He is only 31 pounds right now so lifting him is not a problem but in a year or two I'm going to have to start training to be a professional weight lifter in order keep up with him. And to be completely honest - if it is possible I would like to get out of having to be involved in the toilet process! : ) We have a child's toilet that he can use but he can't pull his own pants down or empty the potty so...yeah for me, I get toilet duty. For some reason the kid LOVES the bathroom and would go every 1/2 hour if I would let him - so I'm sure he is antsy to be able to go without mom's help as well - then he can go whenever he feels like it.
We still continue to adjust well. The boys are doing great and really starting to understand a lot of English. They aren't speaking as much of it but they pick up a word or two every day. Joseph and Michael continue to be the best of friends which is trying at times. They get very riled up and our house is so small that it just seems to be magnified. Joseph also tends to exclude Charity which goes over like a ton of bricks so we're working on it. Most of the time having 4 isn't much different than having 2. (Just don't ask me about that at dinner time or when I'm folding laundry - again!) I think it helps that they are old enough to do a lot of stuff on their own. They play really well together and are very helpful around the house. They keep us laughing too. I think we're going to have our hands full when this group becomes teenagers.
The other night we went to a chili supper for some friends of ours who are adopting from Ukraine and hoping to travel in May. It was a great evening of fellowship, worship and sharing. Their church has gathered them in and supported them like nothing I have ever seen. I love to see God's people acting like we are supposed to and these people are living it out! Many of the other families that we have met through this adoption journey were at this event as well. Most of the adopted kids (all but one of them are girls) were from Sevastopol and so Joseph recognized a few of them. One in particular had his attention and he had hers as well - I have the "love notes" to prove it! I am SO not ready for this!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Our new "normal"

You don't have to speak English to love the antics of Bob, Larry and all the other Veggies!
One of Jonathan's many funny faces.
The two sick ones at Eric's dad's Christmas.
The two healthy ones in the same moment as above. Note the difference in energy levels!
Joseph's favorite birthday gift - cold hard cash!
Jonathan making sure he got his share of fudge on his birthday cake/ice-cream combo.
The happy couple - 10 years later!

Well the kids have been with us for 2 weeks as of yesterday, and what a 2 weeks it has been! We’ve survived 4 Christmases (not the movie!), New Years, 2 birthdays and our 10 year anniversary – which we celebrated early by taking a one month trip to Europe and dinner locally at a great little place in a nearby town. New Year’s Eve was spent hanging out with some of our best friends. We had a great time just playing cards, watching the kids run amok and trying to pick up new songs on Wii Rock Band. We’ve been incredibly blessed to land in two wonderful small groups over our tenure at our church. The friendships that I made in the first one and am making in the latest one are so important to me and I’m extremely blessed to count you guys as friends – and not just the facebook kind of friend! Okay, enough of the sentiment!

Joseph’s birthday is the same day as our anniversary. Poor kid didn’t get much of a birthday with it being just a week after they had come home. But, we had small group for church that night, so he got to play with all the kids, got lots of extra hugs and kisses, a few presents and a yummy banana cake. This also meant that we had to keep Jonathan’s birthday low key as well (which quite frankly is fine with me!) Next year they will have made friends and I’ll do the whole sha-bang for them. (What am I doing? I’ve just put that in writing and now I’ll have to follow through with it!)

We had Christmas with Eric’s side of the family on Saturday. Jonathan and Charity had both contracted fevers in the night but John (Eric’s dad) wanted us to come anyway and the kids were feeling great as long as the Motrin was working. John and Teri (Eric’s older sister) had been with us at the airport on the night the boys got home but Laura (Eric’s little sister) hadn’t met her new nephews yet. It was fun to watch her fall in love with them and overall it was a wonderful day. Joseph was his normal goofy self all day. I’m not kidding – that child is going to give Charity a run for her money for the nuttiest kid in our family. A month or so ago I would have told you that she had that title locked up but Joseph is a complete clown! Give him an audience and about 10 minutes to loosen up and stand back! Today’s theme was “monkey man” and he did everything in his power to prove that he belongs in a zoo. He got a card from my sister for his birthday with a monkey on it, they watched Curious George on PBS a couple of times this week and Jonathan got a stuffed George for his birthday plus it’s one of the few animal names Joseph knows in English. All of these circumstances combined made for a pretty entertaining day. We were standing in line for the citrus truck this afternoon and he kept telling me over and over “Ya monkey mama. Ya monkey mama. Papa panda, mama kangaroo, ya monkey!” (Ya = I) I’m not sure what makes Eric a panda or me a kangaroo but it doesn’t really matter because at dinner we all got assigned to new animals – except Eric who is still a panda, and Monkey Man of course!

Jonathan prefers to do most of his expressing with his eyes. He makes the most hilarious facial expressions! He’s also quite pathetic when he wants to be. He does this silent cry with these HUGE crocodile tears that would work their magic on anyone who didn’t know what he was up to. I asked him to put his blanket and monkey back in his bed this afternoon and you would have thought I told him the most heartbreaking news ever! Now granted, it is harder for him to put stuff away when he doesn’t have his braces on but he is perfectly capable of the task I asked him to perform, he just didn’t want to do it and so he played the pity card. Next time Mom might buy it but this time I won the battle. Go me!!

Michael and Charity are adjusting pretty well to having 2 new brothers. I really thought that it would be hardest on MJ since he was the one giving up his room, closet, toys, etc. but I think he’s had the easiest time of it. He and Joseph are the best of friends (for now) and Michael is such a mother hen that he has naturally gravitated toward Jonathan as well. Charity feels left out a little more often. Joseph prefers Michael’s company over anyone else and Jonathan wants to be just like his big brothers so they tend to exclude her. Today I kicked Joseph and Charity outside and made MJ stay in and work on homework. It was nice to see the two middle ones playing together. They will most likely be in the same grade in the fall and so I really want them to be friends as well as siblings.

I am adjusting to being the mother of four as well. Most of the time we have a pretty good time but the hour before dinner is the worst. I call this the “arsenic hour” – you either want to take it or give it to someone! Finishing up homework, getting the house picked up before Eric gets home, and getting dinner on the table while dealing with all the “Mommy, can I…, Mommy, I need…, Mommy, Michael did this and Mommy, Charity did that”, not to mention all the complaints and requests in Russian about drives me crazy every night! We’re working on getting a routine down and I’ve got my awesome chore chart going for the 3 oldest ones ( http://www.familytools.com) and my supper swap group has started again, which helps tremendously. On the plus side – I sleep really well at night!

In many ways the time has gone quickly but in others it feels like these boys have been with us forever. They experience new things every day and it’s so much fun to see our life through their eyes. Everything is new and exciting to them and so different from what they have lived up to this point. I’ve told you all before that the transition has been very easy and that continues to be true. Both boys pout when told no but they eventually obey and we haven’t seen any of the signs or symptoms of RAD, which is a relief. (For those of you who are not familiar with the world of adoption or foster care – this is basically when a child has difficulty “attaching” to their adoptive/foster family. Feel free to Google it if you want to know what we are NOT experiencing.) They are both affectionate and have been telling us they love us for a week or so now. Joseph cried with us for the first time today. He hit his leg on the door frame during one of his “ya monkey” escapades. I know that sounds like a ridiculous thing to be happy about but I’m pleased that he knew that his tears wouldn’t be ignored by me and he let me love on him without even thinking twice. It’s the little moments like this that reassure me that even when the “honeymoon” is over, we will still be alright. Both boys will be going to the doctor on Tuesday for a well-child visit. I believe this will also get the ball rolling for Jonathan and his PT and OT. I’m antsy to get that going so that I have some idea of what challenges we will be facing. I take comport in the fact that God’s promises are true and it has been abundantly clear that He has been in this process every step of the way. We are so, so blessed!