Wednesday, November 12, 2008

One Year Later ... an Autumnal Diaper Monologue

Today is a very special day. It's the first anniversary of the day our wonderful son toddled into our lives ... wearing a little sweater, blue tights, and red shoes with yellow flowers on them.

Our apologies for the late blog update. We've had a very busy couple of months with family visiting, preschool, and all kinds of things. We have lots of stories to tell about the escapades of our now 2 year old son (when you ask Roman how old he is, he says "two" and holds up two fingers!)

Let's start with Roman's 2nd birthday, September 10. What we had originally planned as just a quiet get-together turned into an all day extravaganza ... involving 25 toddlers, 3 six-year olds (the triplets), and an eight-year old....our sociable little boy loved every minute of it!

Roman's day started out with a birthday breakfast for just the three of us, surrounded by balloons. He opened some of his cards, and especially loved the ones that played tunes.

We then went to Puget Ridge Tot Lot where Roman and his friend Garrett (who turned 2 on September 12) had a birthday playdate organized by the West Seattle Mom's of Tots group. A whole bunch of their toddler buddies showed up to play and eat healthy snacks and a decidedly unhealthy (but tasty) collection of birthday cupcakes. We decorated the park with balloons and a "Happy 2nd Birthday" sign. It was a beautiful sunny day, and the birthday boys had a ball!

Roman and Garrett enjoying cupcakes at the park.

Roman and one of his girlfriends (Marlies) at the birthday playdate.

We came home exhausted, and plopped Roman down for his nap (we had the whole day perfectly planned out). While he snoozed, we decorated for his Thomas the Tank Engine themed birthday party and got food and drinks ready (which included Helen's special recipe "toddler punch").

Carri and the triplets (Devlin, Kaysan, and Lauren) came a little early to help with the last minute preparation, and we put the triplets in charge of Roman. They promptly built a moat in our sandpit (much to Roman's delight) creating a mud bath a hippopotamus would be proud of.

Now, we had told everyone that we would have a paddling pool but we didn't tell them to prepare for mud. Much messiness ensued, but the mud bath was a big hit (with the kids).

Adie contemplates the mud bath.

The highlight of Roman's party were the fabulous birthday cakes made by Aunt Mari and Aunt JoAnn. There were three cakes altogether, two were surrounded by a train track with a little Thomas the Tank Engine going round, the other cake was decorated like a Russian flag. They were absolutely wonderful and tasted superb too.

All in all, it was a wonderful day. We kept the giant helium balloons of Thomas, James, and Percy in our living room for about a month!

Roman started cooperative preschool the week after his birthday ...he loves it! It's one morning a week and the parents go too. Usually Helen goes with him but Rich has been a couple of times too. Preschool has helped him get over his fear of teacher figures. He loves his teacher "Teacher Ingrid" and really enjoys playing with the other kids, and it helps that his friend Dawson is in the same class.

There are 13 girls and 5 boys in Roman's class. He has figured out that if you push the stroller, all 13 girls will follow you!

In the last six weeks we have had three sets of grandparents to stay. First to arrive were Grandpa Gene and Grandma Victoria from Atlanta. We had a great time visiting Pike Place Market and taking the ferry to Poulsbo.

Next to arrive, were Poppa Jerry and Nana Lois (Cookie Grandma) who drove all the way out from Wisconsin.

And a few days later, Helen's mum (British Grandma) flew out from the UK. British Grandma stayed for two weeks and taught Roman to say some British things like"Fish Fingers," (fish sticks), "pinny" (apron), and "oo er." She also joined us at Preschool and enjoyed singing "The Wheels on the Bus" and "The Popcorn Man."

On the weekend before Halloween we went to Remlinger Farms to pick our own pumpkins. Roman got extremely muddy in the pumpkin picking process ... he had a ball! We also went on a small steam engine, and Roman "drove" a school bus and an old car. He had his first pony ride (he loved it), and fed some farm animals.

We returned home with a thoroughly exhausted but happy little boy

It ain't's my pumpkin.

Our Halloween celebration started off with "Pumpkinpalooza," a Halloween party for the under 5's at our local community center.

Roman and his girlfriend Kennedy at Pumpkinpalooza (Kennedy is probably thinking "my boyfriend has odd socks...I'm so embarrassed).

Before setting out for some serious trick or treating, we went for a walk with Roman's friend Sebastian who was dressed as an orange kitty (and his mom Helena). Missy was quite offended that no one dressed as a basset hound.

As you can see, Helen, Roman, and British Grandma were looking quite ghoulish on Halloween (Roman loved his kitty costume so much he didn't want to take it off).

It was the first time Trick or Treating for all three of us. While it is quite popular in the UK now it just wasn't done in the '70s when Helen was a kid. Roman loved Trick or Treating although he did invite himself into a few people's houses! This was his first time eating candy ... he had a small Twix, a Tootsie Roll, and some M & M's, and then the candy mysteriously disappeared (mmmm wonder what happened to it....)

Rich stayed home to hand out candy to the local kids, and we decorated our house with spiders webs and skulls. Roman really loved the Halloween decorations, especially spiders. We're not sure what he's going to do without giant furry spiders around. We may have to get him a cuddly one he can have year round (I wonder if they make cuddly spiders, does anyone really want to cuddle a spider?)

Should I vote for Bob the Builder or Elmo?

British Grandma was excited to be here for the election results (we love election night in the UK!). The Green family is a politically divided household (you have to guess which of us is which). Needless to say, there have been many heated discussions in the last few months, and we have an agreement not to put any political stickers on the cars or signs in the yard.

We invited our neighbors over for a little get together to watch the election results. The plan was for them to sneak over after Roman had gone to bed. Although we tucked him into bed, it wasn't long before "mama...poop" could be heard coming from his room (the "poop" was an excuse to get up).

As soon as he walked into the room and saw his 9 year old buddy Dalton (who was getting to stay up late because it was a special occasion), not to mention his Aunt Mari, Aunt JoAnn, and a puppy called Sunshine...he got a huge grin on his face and became the life of the party (who cares what those boring people on tv are saying). So he ended up witnessing an historic election night.

In a few years time we can tell him that he was watching when the first African American was elected president, even though he was more interested in playing with his choo choos. The first election that his mama remembers was also an historic election ...when Margaret Thatcher was elected as the first female Prime Minister of Britain.

We'll sign off now with a few more pics of Tigger (our new nickname for Roman because he bounces everywhere).

Thank you all for your love and friendship.

We are looking forward to spending our first Thanksgiving and Christmas together as a family.

Helen, Rich, and Roman

"Missy A Portrait" by Roman

The first photo Roman ever took (not bad!). He loves to take photos with our rather expensive Nikon D50 (which now has sticky toddler finger prints on it).

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Congratulations Joel, Clarion, Slav, and Sergei!

Drasvoyte everyone!

It's me Roman sneaking onto mama's computer again. I'm very excited because last month my friend Sergei from Artem Baby Home went to live with his new mommy and daddy Clarion and Joel and his big brother Slav. Slav and Sergei are biological brothers who have been living apart in different orphanages.

Mama and Dada first met Joel and Clarion at the Vlad Inn in February. They were on their first trip to meet their boys. Then they had to wait a very long time ... 7 months ... mama and dada only had to wait 2 1/2 months before they could go back to get me.

We are all so happy for the Fritsche family. Please check out their blog to read more about their adventures.

Love Roman

PS. I pooped on the potty today ... oh wait, that shouldn't really be in this posting. But I'm so proud, I'm telling everyone!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Wascally Woeman's Summer Adventures

Hi all,

Sorry for the rather belated blog update. We've had a very busy summer ... Helen directed the Seafair Torchlight Parade on KIRO-TV, Rich directed Portland Timbers soccer on Fox Sports, and Roman directed all his cuddly toys in a play (at least that sounds like what he's doing when we hear him chattering away to them every morning).

The Russian Rascal has been enjoying the sunny weather and has been up to all sorts of misadventures. This has been a summer of "firsts." First boat ride, first train ride, first hike, first game of peek-a-boo with an orangutan, first time running the bases, first time finger painting...and yes, first time as a passenger in the Bat Mobile!

July started off with WACAP Kids Day, an annual picnic organized by our adoption agency. There were 600 people including lots of children from all over the world (WACAP kids are from the US, China, Thailand, Korea, Ethiopia, Vietnam, Russia, Kazakhstan, and India). We met adoptive families from all those countries. Roman met a little boy who was adopted from Artem baby home in '06 (Roman came to Artem Baby Home in Feb '07). He also made a new buddy called Luke who comes from Sakhalin Island (Russia's largest island), and a twin brother and sister from Kazan (another region of Russia).

There was lots of entertainment including a magician, a huge drum set made from scrap metal, and a bubble machine. Roman's favorites were the bouncy houses and the "Tall Lady." He kept following her around with a knowing grin as if to say "I know you're not really that tall."

Later that week we went to "Day Out With Thomas" at the Snoqualmie Valley Railroad. Roman is a big fan of Thomas the Tank Engine, although he doesn't like Thomas's nemesis "Diesel" and pulls a face whenever he sees him. Helen is really happy Roman is a Thomas nut as her dad used to read her the books when she was little.

A Thomas the Tank Engine replica pulled the old coaches for a half hour ride right along by Snoqualmie Falls. Roman loved riding on a "choo choo." Although, Rich pointed out that the Thomas replica was actually the caboose and that the train was really being pulled by a diesel engine (don't tell Roman).
There were all sorts of Thomas themed activities, and Roman spent ages playing with the toy trains and track (the only thing that can keep him completely absorbed for an hour, is a train set!). He also got a Harold the Helicopter (Thomas's friend) temporary tattoo. Even now, six weeks later, he still looks at his arm whenever he sees Harold the Helicopter and wonders where his tattoo went, we'd better get him another one!

We took Roman on the West Seattle Water Taxi which runs from Alki Beach to the downtown waterfront. It was his first boat ride and he loved it! Once we arrived at the waterfront, we went for a ride in a carriage pulled by a lovely old horse. Roman really enjoyed the ride (although the horse was a bit stinky)! We then walked down to the aquarium where Roman was fascinated by the otters, and we bought him a cuddly otter to join his family of cuddly animals. We also visited the Pirate Store...Shiver me timbers!

A few days later, we ventured out on a much bigger boat, a Washington State Ferry. We went to Bainbridge Island, then visited Poulsbo, one of Helen's favorite places.

For Roman, the highlight of our trip to Poulsbo was seeing the UPS man delivering packages (we had to watch the entire process...bare in mind that we see the UPS man on our street nearly every day). He also enjoyed a visit to the Marine Life Center, although he did give us all quite a scare when he attempted to climb into the "touch and feel" pool.

We took Roman for his first hike at Twin Falls near North Bend. He absolutely loved it! We have a little backpack with a leash on it so we can let him run but keep hold of him. It turned out to be just perfect for hiking trails. He can hike and explore by himself but we have him on a tether so we can't lose him over some rocky precipice!

He has boundless energy and probably could do a ten mile hike (not us though).

One of Roman's favorite things to do, is explore Alki Beach at low tide ... there are lots of puddles and interesting creatures to investigate.

You may notice that in this picture Roman is chasing a naked girl down the beach (it should be noted that he was down to just a diaper himself by the end of the morning)

Our beach bum (no pun intended) also had fun at Alki with his friend Polina. Here they are planning to set sail for Vladivostok to bring all their baby home buddies back with them.

Or perhaps a tunnel would be faster!

Roman's latest obsession is the moon. Whenever he sees the moon he stops what he is doing, points at the sky and shouts "moon!' He then wants us to pick him up so he can be closer to it. Until an airplane goes by, then it's "airpay!" followed by "moon" once again. If he can't see the moon he gets very upset, although, not quite as upset as when he misses the recycling/yard waste truck on Mondays.

We're pleased to report that Roman has two new Russian words! Da and Paka (yes, and bye). Of course, he has understood these words for months, but this is the first time he has spoken them. As we told you in the last blog update, our friend Helena has been talking to him in Russian when we have our weekly play dates. Also, whenever we run into a Russian person we ask them to speak to him in Russian.
We've talked to a few other adoptive parents of Russian kids and found that many of them haven't considered having their child learn Russian. But to us it seems like the natural thing to do. We want him to be proud of where he comes from (all three countries). It's something we want to do for him while we have the chance; while he's still young enough that all languages come easily. If he loses interest when he's older and doesn't want to pursue it further, that's his decision. But if he is interested in learning about Russian culture and his own history, it will be so much easier if he can speak and read the language.
So far, we've met several bilingual kids Roman's age. Mostly it's English/Spanish but we've also met English/Swedish, English/Korean, English/Mandarin, and of course Roman's buddy Sebastian who will probably be tri-lingual English/Ukrainian/Russian.

The behavioral problems we mentioned in our last blog update are getting much better! He still occasionally pulls our hair and pinches, but he now prefers the "silent tantrum" (this is similar to Harry's "silent meow" which he uses when especially annoyed ... his mouth opens but no sound comes out) anyway, when Roman is made to do something he doesn't want to do he very calmly, and carefully, lies down on the ground, face down, and just lies there for about 30 seconds then gets up and goes about his business. Rich and I either ignore the tantrum or get down on the floor with him and make fun of him, this usually causes him to burst out laughing!

Which brings us almost up to date...

Earlier this week we visited Roman's Great Grandparents Harvey and Mildred in Eastern Washington. We all love visiting Harvey and Mildred (Missy would live there quite happily, she runs wild like a farm dog). Roman enjoyed petting the horse who lives across the street, and loved watching all the grain trucks and tractors.

Last weekend Roman's aunt Kathy and uncle Bill came to visit from Wisconsin. They spent a couple of nights with us, and toured around the Washington coast. Here they are with Roman on Alki Beach.

Our Rascal is almost 2 (look at the ticker at the top of the blog!) We can't believe it. We are having a special play date with the West Seattle Mom's of Tots group on his birthday. His buddy Garrett will be celebrating his 2nd birthday September 12th so they are having a joint celebration. Then in the evening we are having a small Thomas the Tank Engine party at home (well, maybe not so small, at last count there were 5 toddlers coming .... Missy and the cats had better run for the hills)! We are so excited to celebrate his birthday, it will be three birthdays rolled into one as we missed the first two.

We'll end with a list of Roman's new words, and some more pics from our trip to Great Grandma and Great Grandpa's...

Orange Juice, oatmeal, ice, blue, red, hot dog, owl, yeah (unfortunately this has preceded "yes", Rich is to blame), Kitty, Elmo (the furry red creature of Sesame Street fame), Bare Necessities (yes he actually sings that), England, Russia (still unable to say USA), Roman (pronounced Woeman), Kennedy (pronounced Kendee), Harold (as in the Helicopter), Diesel (the mean train), eyes, nose, hair, mouth, "O" and "R" (the letters) ... and not forgetting Da and Paka!

Driving Great Uncle Dick and Great Aunt JoAnn's boat.

Picking some flowers for mum in Great Grandma Mildred's flower bed.
Taking the "Retro Rocket" out for a spin out in the countryside.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Privet Will Roman Garber!


It's me Roman.

I snuck onto the computer while mama wasn't looking to say privet (that's Russian for "hi") to my friend and fellow Russian Rascal, Will. Tomorrow (July 1st) is his  "Gotcha Day", the day when he gets his new mommy, daddy, and big sister Addie. As I'm writing this he will probably already be back at the Vlad Inn causing trouble.

Will and I were in the same group at Artem Baby Home and slept in the same room. We got up to lots of mischief together.  

Here's a picture of Will and Addie outside Artem baby home (can you tell they have just met?). Addie is giving Will the same look girls give me when I have pulled the heads off their dolls or eaten a strawberry off the floor ... it's usually followed by them saying "Oh Woeman"

Will's mom and dad Jason and Jody are adopting both Addie and Will on this trip (wow! my mom and dad had enough trouble with one Russian Rascal). The ten day waiting period was waived for Addie, so they were allowed to take her back to the Vlad Inn after their court date. 

Please keep the Garber family in your thoughts and prayers, we hope they have a safe journey home, and one day we'll have an Artem Baby Home reunion!