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.