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!

The Toddler News



As you can see, Roman and his dada visited mama at work the other day (Roman is such a regular visitor to KIRO that he knows his way around and always makes a beeline for the set). He may be an anchor or weather person if his ambition to be a recycle truck driver doesn't pan out.

Actually, if Roman was reading the news it would sound like this "Hi, Caaaar. Mama, Didda, Harrrooo (Harry), Allooo (Sally), Airplane! (points in the air) Bus! No No No (shakes head).
Rich and Roman meet Helen on her lunch break every Saturday, and we go for a picnic down on the waterfront or at the Seattle Center. Then we come back to the station and Roman runs around a bit saying hi to everyone and generally being mischievous.

Seattle is sizzling at the moment...we've been enjoying some baking temperatures (in the 90s this weekend) and are having fun playing in Roman's sandbox and paddling pool. We also got a giant beach ball that squirts water. It's great to be able to play outside in our yard. Rich put up a fence and actually built a gate himself! So now our front yard is completely secure and Roman can run around to his heart's content. 

June has been a busy month for the Green family. Our Triple Nationality Boy Adventurer has been up to all kinds of mischief. He's growing like a weed (a tall dandelion) --- we haven't actually measured him but we know this because he can now reach the door knobs in our house. This has really upset Sally (one of the cats) because she's been trying to turn the door knobs for years but, unfortunately for her, she doesn't have opposable thumbs so she just can't quite get a grip on it. Roman, on the other hand, does have opposable thumbs, and on the day he woke up and found that he'd grown just enough to reach the door knobs ... all kinds of mischief ensued. Suffice to say, there are now childproof covers on all the door knobs in our house.

He is so "cool" he will only wear his baseball caps backwards, he crosses his legs casually when in the stroller, and rubs his own recipe of "hair gel" in his hair (usually apple sauce, maple syrup, and/or "Yo Baby" yogurt).

The weather for most of June was typical northwest drizzle. After some 70 degree days in May, we went back to early spring weather. Roman doesn't mind the rain though because jumping in puddles is one of his top ten favorite activities.

Some of Roman's favorite toys are his cuddly animals, particularly BaBa the penguin and Ala the mountain lion. We're not sure how the penguin turned into BaBa but we think Ala comes from us saying "it's a lion." When we first met Roman, he wasn't interested in cuddly toys but now he has an active imagination and is able to see them as "friends" Sometimes we hear animated conversations going on between Roman, Baba, and Ala. His first favorite was his polar bear which he hugged every night, but now the penguin and the lion are fairly constant companions. The lion is almost as big as him and some nights we find him sleeping on top of it! He also has two monkeys, a giraffe, a rabbit, and a dinosaur.

Helen has been working on turning Roman into a Brit. To this end, she has introduced him to Marmite. This picture shows Roman post Marmite sandwich (he likes it so much, he actually licks it off the bread (notice the British bib).

On Friday, we took Roman to Boyer Children's Clinic for a speech therapy/cognitive skills evaluation. It was actually quite a fun time for him as the two therapists were very experienced with kids and knew just how to hold his attention. We were surprised to find that he does not qualify for the early intervention program because his language skills are not delayed! What a smart little guy he is. Even though he has only been in an English speaking environment for 4 months, his language skills are on track! We had a feeling this would be the case as he understands so much of what we say and already says about 40 words. It's a bit disappointing in one way though because Boyer is an extremely well-regarded clinic and we had really hoped he would benefit from some of their classes.  It's incredible what the toddler brain can do...learn a language in just months!

In this pic you can see Roman demonstrating that his cognitive skills are on track too! Who needs toys when you've got dog food to stack?

Recently, Roman's been having some behavioral issues that have been quite difficult for us. We decided to tell everyone about this on the blog as we know there are other adoptive families that read this and it helps to know that there are others going through the same experience. About three weeks ago he began having trouble getting sleep; he wanted us to hold him, and woke up a lot during the night (when Rich was away one night, Helen had to bring him into bed with her to get him to go to sleep, he slept very well while Helen cuddled him).  At the same time he started being particularly aggressive towards us whenever he didn't get his own way; pulling our hair, pinching, and scratching us. So on the one hand, he was being very affectionate and not wanting to let us out of his sight, and on the other, he was trying to control us. This aggression has been really difficult to handle, as he actually hurts Helen and has left scratches down her arm. Sometimes he hits the poor dog too, just to get a reaction from us. 

He's still the same darling little boy who loves to give us hugs and kisses, but now he has this major controlling issue. Well, we decided to jump on it immediately and went to see a child psychologist who specializes in International Adoption. Many people might say it's just a phase and that many kids go through the same thing, but it's not the same for post-institutionalized children. We need to watch his behavior carefully so he can have a bright future and not be affected mentally by his past.

We knew before going to see the psychologist that he was letting out his frustration physically because he couldn't express it verbally (he may be doing well with language but he's not at that level yet). However, the psychologist was able to elaborate on what she felt might be causing those frustrations and gave us tips on how best to handle it. We will keep you posted.

Roman's made some wonderful friends (he's got a better social life than we do). His buddies include Polina (who's 3 and also from Primorsky Krai), Adie, Kennedy, and Anthony (who are all 2 year old chatterboxes). Dawson, Lou, Beckett, Charlotte, and Mary (who are about the same age as Roman), and Sebastian (who's 18 months). Sebastian's mom is from the Ukraine, and Sebastian is learning both English and Ukrainian. His mom Helena also speaks Russian fluently and has been talking to Roman in Russian. We're really happy that Roman is having an opportunity to hear the Russian language again. The psychologist thought it would be great for him to hear Russian and see pictures of us all at the baby home, even if it upsets him a little at first. The speech therapists also felt that it would not hurt his English language development. We're really excited at the prospect of him being bilingual and we hope that he'll be able to keep Russian as a first language along with English rather than learning it later. There are many opportunities for him to hear Russian in Seattle as we have a large Russian population, so we're hoping this will be possible.

Of course, on his list of buddies we musn't forget Devlin, Kaysan, and Lauren the 6 year old triplets who look after him most Sundays while we are working. Well, it's actually their mom and dad Carri and Don who really look after him! Roman has a great time with the triplets and their rabbit Keppler and hamster Hammy. Devlin is Roman's "older brother" figure, and Roman likes to follow him around. If you went to our wedding, you may remember Devlin as our little ring bearer (he was only 14 months old back then and had to be carried up by his dad). Thanks Don and Carri for taking care of the Rascal for us..when you already have three 6 year olds of your own, that's quite an undertaking!

We'll write more soon,

The Greens