Saturday, May 31, 2008

British Grandma's Visit

*Look for our "British/American-American/British dictionary at the end of this blog. You'll need it!*

Hi all,

May was a busy month for the Green family. It started off badly when Helen sprained her ankle and limped around in a Frankenstein's Monster-esque boot, thankfully Helen's mum Linda arrived from the UK the next day and was a big help.

Linda spent the first two weeks of May with us. Not only did she meet her new grandson, she also met her four-legged, floppy-eared granddaughter Missy.
We had all kinds of adventures with British Grandma, including taking Roman on his first bus trip. Buses are one of his favorite things in the whole world, so we figured he'd absolutely love to ride in one. Boy, were we wrong! He cried non-stop from California Ave to the West Seattle Bridge. But he eventually calmed down and ended up having such a good time that he didn't want to get off!

We took the bus to the Pacific Science Center, where they have a great toddler area with a multi-tiered water table and lots of soft-sculptures to climb on. Roman loved the animatronic dinosaurs, particularly the triceratops.

Every time Linda visits, we have breakfast at Zatz a Better Bagel (British bagels from Marks & Spencer just aren't a patch on real American bagels). Roman experienced his first bagel (with raspberry cream cheese). He loved it!
Roman is trying out new words every day. His latest are "Harry," "apple," "gaggagapter (helicopter)," "duck," and "orange juice." The first two words he put together were "butt paste" ... we're so proud. He picked this up because every time we change his diaper we find ourselves yelling "don't put your hand in the butt paste!"

Roman will become a British citizen once his plane lands on British soil (he became an American citizen the moment our plane landed in Seattle). Therefore, it's important that mama and British Grandma prepare him. To this end, Helen has introduced him to Marmite, chip butties, and brown sauce. British Grandma taught him to kick whenever she shouted "Beckham!" and bought him a Thomas the Tank Engine that speaks with Thomas's true English accent (it's great, but Rich hates it because Missy is always setting it off accidentally).

Roman's fascination with buses has recently moved to airborne things, be they birds, planes, or gaggagapters. Now whenever he hears or sees something in the air, he stops, points and says "BIRD!" Yes, even the gaggagapter is considered just a subspecies of BIRD. He still loves buses but they don't engender quite the excitement they used to. Of course, nothing beats the recycle truck for sheer entertainment.

Last Sunday, Roman spent his first time away from us, when he stayed with our friends Don and Carri and their 5 and 3/4 year old triplets Devlin, Kaysen, and Lauren for the afternoon while we were both at work. Although, he cried on and off for the first half hour, he eventually settled in and had lots of fun playing in their huge sand pit, and eating Otter Pops. He also enjoyed petting their rabbit Keppler. He's beginning to understand that he needs to be gentle with animals, and he and Harry are actually becoming quite close now - Harry even gives him a kitty-kiss occasionally.

This year Rich is directing some Portland Timbers soccer matches down in Portland. Roman and Helen are going to go down there with him one weekend and explore. It will also be Roman's first soccer match (another important step towards becoming a British bloke).

Roman had his second pediatrician's appointment two weeks ago. His doctor is very pleased with how much he is catching up in growth. Although he is still tiny for his age, he is now at least officially on the growth chart for a 20 month old. He wasn't even on the chart when we first arrived back in the US. He's grown two inches since we got back, and has put on 2 pounds (2 pounds doesn't sound like much, but apparently that's a lot for a toddler). He was born 4 weeks early, plus maternal nicotine use effects growth, so it's not surprising that he's a tiny guy. We're still expecting him to tower over us by the time he's a teenager. As you can see from this pic ... his feet have had a real growing spurt!

We're going to be taking Roman to Boyer Children's Clinic next week. His language development will be evaluated to see if he qualifies for the early intervention program. He probably will test as having a language delay since he has just switched from one language to another and was raised in an institution (caretakers don't have the time to engage children in one-on-one conversations, and they only play with other children of the same age so they don't pick up language from older kids). He probably would have tested delayed in his Russian language development. We wouldn't be surprised though, if he's right on target. He has about a 20 word vocabulary and understands a lot of what we say to him. The other day, Helen was reading a book called "Opposites" to him, and Roman said "opposite!" That's a big word for a 20 month old!

We've joined a local parents' group, and have been on some playdates with kids Roman's age. He is still quite insecure and tends to cling to Helen (at one playdate he ventured out to grab a toy, then came back to sit on Helen's lap while he played with it). We think this is because being around a group of other children his age reminds him of the orphanage and he gets scared that we are going to leave him. He does well on a one to one basis with other kids, and enjoys playdates with his Russian friend Polina who just turned 3, and his other girlfriends Adie, Charlotte, Ellie, and Mary. Oh, and he just recently made two guy friends, Lou who is 19 months and Gage who is 16 months (so now he has some buddies to hang out with as well as all those girlfriends!)

Our adoption announcements/thank you letters are coming in the mail soon. We've mailed some already. Sorry it's taking so long (it's Roman's fault, he's a procrastinator).

Take care,

The Greens

***American Translations for the Brits***

BUTT PASTE Boudreaux's Butt Paste is a well known, and highly respected nappy rash cream.

OTTER POPS Fruit-flavoured lollies that have been around since the '60s

SOCCER Football

***British Translations for the Americans***

BLOKE Guy, dude.

BROWN SAUCE A sauce made from vinegar, molasses, and other mysterious ingredients. As ubiquitous in Britain as ketchup. The two are always together, in restaurants, chips shops, wherever you go. HP makes the best one. It has the Houses of Parliament on the front (it is not the same as the HP sauce sold in the US, that recipe has been changed for the US palette, and it's a pale imitation. Plus, it's marketed as a BBQ sauce, which it certainly is not). Only British people like brown sauce.

BUTTY A sandwich

MARKS & SPENCER A legendary British department store. Also known as "Marks & Sparks."

MARMITE A sandwich spread made from yeast and vegetables, delicious on toast. If you're not British, you won't like it. Australians have a similar delicacy called "Vegemite." Only Australians really like Vegemite, and only British people really like Marmite. British people will eat Vegemite if there's no Marmite available, and vice versa, but we prefer our own brand of yeast spread.