Thursday, January 29, 2009

An Inaugural Diaper

Roman has announced his candidacy for President in the 2048 election. On the ticket with him is Bubba the Penguin and, in a controversial move, he has selected Skunky for Secretary of State. He will, of course, be representing The Green Party.

We would like to wish everyone a very happy 2009! We hope your holiday season was as wonderful as ours. As Roman opened his presents on Christmas Day we couldn't help thinking back to last Christmas, when it was just the two of us, and our thoughts were thousands of miles away in Russia ...wondering whether they were celebrating Christmas at Roman's baby home, and hoping our little boy would be safe.

This year was so different. It was magical to see Roman's face light up when we turned on the Christmas tree lights, hearing him trying to sing "Jingle Bells," and laughing with delight at our neighbor's giant inflatable Santa.

We went to Trinity Tree Farm in Issaquah to cut down our Christmas tree. Roman helped pick it out, and rode on a tractor with Helen. There was also a little red train to ride on, and an old fire truck just perfect for climbing.

Roman hung the first decoration on our Christmas tree, and loved helping to decorate. You will be surprised to know that our tree survived a toddler, a basset hound, and four cats relatively unscathed. However, we often came home to find the tree skirt out in the middle of the floor, but we're used to that ... the cats like to attack it.

We will always remember that our first Christmas together as a family was a White Christmas, which just added to the magic. It started snowing in mid-December and never really stopped. Helen and Roman were snowed in as Rich took our 4 wheel drive vehicle to work (our other vehicle is a Mazda Miata), but we had fun playing in the snow, and exploring the frozen tundra with Missy the Arctic Basset to guide us.

We picked the perfect day to visit Santa at the Issaquah Reindeer Festival. We took Roman's friend Sebastian and his mom Helena with us, and there were only two other families there. A fresh carpet of snow had fallen the night before, and it looked like a winter wonderland. Several reindeer live there year round and are named for Santa's reindeer (we think this one is Prancer).

We followed a little trail up to Santa's house, feeding the reindeer along the way. There was a warming fire place and cuddly lions and tigers to hold. Santa was great and spent a lot of time with Roman and Sebastian.

The weekend before Christmas, we all ventured out in the snow to Sebastian's 2nd birthday party. It was a lovely winter-themed party with snowflakes and a snowman, and homemade ice cream!

On Christmas Eve we read a children's version of the Christmas story and put out sherry and a mince pie for Santa and a carrot for Rudolph. Rich told Helen that Americans usually leave milk and cookies for Santa but we Brits know that Santa likes a tipple (bet he was happy when he got to our house).

Roman was excited and a little bewildered Christmas morning as it was all such a new experience to him. He loved opening his presents and, after opening all of his, our sweet boy helped us open ours and jumped up and down excitedly when we opened our gifts. He enjoyed having the job of handing gifts to us.

Mama and Didda (that's what he calls Rich) bought him a tricycle, and he was so keen to ride it that we set out in the snow (with Missy leading the way). Missy and Roman are now in training for the Iditarod.

We had a quiet Christmas Day, just the eight of us (Mama, Didda, Roman, Harry, Sally, BT, Aretha, and Missy). In the evening, we went to Aunt Mari and Aunt JoAnn's. They gave Roman a fork lift truck which he is just crazy about. Helen made her traditional trifle, with a special non-alcoholic version for Roman. And Roman visited his kitty pal Ally (Ally is the only cat that absolutely loves Roman, we think it's because she's a kitty version of a toddler herself, we wonder if she will still like him in a few months when she is a grown-up cat.)
Helen's famous trifle (with a special one for Roman)

At Aunt Mari and Aunt JoAnn's.

With Ally the kitty toddler!


Other news since our last blog update....Roman began taking a weekly speech therapy class at Boyer Children's Clinic in November. It's a fun class with just four kids. It's different from pre-school in that it's focused on language and taught by two speech therapists. The kids do art projects, play games, and run and tumble in the gym. Roman loves it's just great fun for him (and mum and dad go to class too).

Roman's spoken language is behind where it should be and it was frustrating him. He's an intelligent kid, and we felt that his language just wasn't keeping up with his cognitive abilities. It's not surprising for two reasons: firstly, after hearing Russian exclusively until the age of 17 months, he switched languages. Secondly, he didn't get much one on one verbal interaction at the orphanage so the speech centers in his brain weren't stimulated as they should have been. His comprehension of Russian was way behind where it should have been when we adopted him, and he could only speak two Russian words.

Well, Roman is a real chatterbox now. He's just starting to put three words together but that's amazing since he only started putting two words together a month ago. Here are some examples: " .....truck" "Box, mama, box .... those ... in box" (not exactly sure what "those" are), " feet", "mama's feet." He's very good with "me" mine" and plurals, adding the "s" at the right time, and saying "feet" for example instead of "foots". 

There's just been this language burst, and he loves talking. He never, ever, stops, he even talks to himself when he's asleep. He's only this chatty when he's at home though, he gets a lot more shy about talking when he's out and about. Every third word is "mama" ..."trucks, mama, in there, trucks, mama, Awa (Aretha the cat) in there...." and when mama isn't there, every third word is "didda." We would also take a guess, that every fifth word is some kind of vehicle (whether it be a truck, car, choo choo, or "airpace").

"Bear! Mama ... bear....big bear, mama!"

Now that he is talking a lot, we've started to notice something (and we did wonder if this would happen)...Roman has an English accent! Most words he says sound just like his mum. However, there are some words that sound just like dad and other words that we wonder ...where on earth did he get that? We usually conclude that he picked that up at Uncle Don and Aunt Carri's, as he spends most Sunday afternoons with them while we are both at work ... he's definitely picking up some cool first-grader terms from the triplets such as "yup" "yeah" and "pigout!"

Every Saturday morning, Rich takes Roman to "Lil Kickers," a soccer program for kids 18 months to 12. They play games like kicking the balls into the hippo's mouth, and building towers out of cones. Roman likes to practice kicking and running backwards at home. It's funny to think that we taught him how to kick a ball last March in Great Grandma and Great Grandpa's yard in Eastern Washington. Now, he's quite a skilled soccer player ...for a 2 and a 1/3 year old!

Last week, we went to a family night at the YMCA and Roman made Valentine's Day cards for Kaysan and Lauren (he already made a Valentine's bumble bee for his girlfriend Kennedy). When Helen asked him who he wanted to marry he said "Lauren," Helen said, well maybe in a few years. Maybe when you're 26 and she's 30...

Our plans for this year include British Grandma's visit in April, visiting Grandpa Gene and Grandma Victoria in Georgia, WACAP Family Camp, visiting the UK sometime in the late summer, and of course going to see Great Grandpa Harvey and Great Grandma Mildred. We also plan to have Roman christened this year (we haven't picked the date yet, Uncle Barry and Aunt Mari will be Godparents).

We thought we'd let everyone know Roman's current clothes size because people are always asking us.

US Sizes

Pants: 18months-2 years
Tops 3T (he's still wearing 2T right now but he's on the brink of being a 3T)
Shoes 8 (he's actually still a 7 right now but almost an 8)

UK Sizes (British kids must be taller than US kids judging by the size differences... must be the Marmite)
Pants: 1-1 1/2 years
Tops: 2 years
Shoes 7.5 UK/25 EUR

"Digger, Mama....big yellow digger....dirt, mama...dirt!"

Roman and Polina. We met Polina's parents Sonia and Shah in Russia (and they live in West Seattle). Polina is 3 and also from the same area of Russia as Roman.

As we are fast approaching the first anniversary of our "Gotcha Day." Here are some things we have learned about our little guy in our first year together.

Favorite things: Cars, trucks, dump trucks, tow trucks, fire engines, police cars, choo choos, "airpaces,""atoos" (helicopters), race cars, diggers (particularly backhoes), boats, bubbas (penguins), ala (lion), kitties, doggies, horses, ooh ooh's (monkeys), soccer, basketball, tae kwon do (he imitates Rich), brown sauce (British delicacy), books (total book worm), stickers, jigsaw puzzles, skateboards (loves to watch the neighbor kids, tried to turn his flatbed truck into one), Thomas the Tank Engine, Elmo, Bob the Builder, Noddy (he doesn't watch tv but he already loves the characters from the books).

Favorite songs: Elmo's Song, the theme to Balamory (a British children's show,) Scoobydoo, Waltzing Matilda, Bob the Builder, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Jingle Bells, Sleigh Ride.

Favorite Books: The Going to Bed Book, Pajama Time, Goodnight Moon, Lucky, Monkey Puzzle, Where's Spot?, Dig, Dig, Digging, The Little Red Hen, Owen and Mzee, Cool Cars, Dazzling Diggers, The Gigantic Turnip, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Hop on Pop, anything Thomas, Pooh, or Cars (the movie).

Helen is excited about our new president and looking forward to the next 8 years! Pleased to think that Obama will be the first president Roman remembers. Rich is just hoping Sarah Palin will run in 2012 and drowning his sorrows with other Republicans (he often posts to the West Seattle Blog under the name Heavy Metal Conservative). Our son, on the other hand, doesn't care just as long as there are still trucks and diggers on the road, airpaces in the air, and choo choos on the tracks.... wouldn't it be nice to be a toddler again, just for a day?

With much love,

Helen, Rich, and Roman

Some recent Romanisms ....

Rich has been teaching Roman to stand when he pees in the big "potty." The other day Roman followed Helen into the bathroom:

Roman: Mama up!
Helen: No sweetie, mama sits to go potty.
Roman: Mama up, mama up!

Helen: Sweetie, mama sits because mama's a girl, she doesn't have a "pee pee."
Roman: (sad look crosses his face, he reaches over and pats Helen gently) ah, poor mama, poor mama.

We tried to let Roman know the real meaning of Christmas, while also enjoying Santa, presents, and the Christmas tree. So each night we opened windows in an advent calendar and read a little book called This is the Stable, a children's story about the birth of Jesus. Once all the decorations were down the book was still around and Roman asked us to read it to him. When we got to the page with a picture of the stable Helen said "Who's this in the manger?" "Santa!" shouted Roman.

Helen: Sweetie, mama and didda love you very much. We traveled all the way to Russia to get you. We will always be your mama and didda and you will always be our son.

Roman: Race cars!...

While visiting Sebastian and Helena

Roman (to Helena): Cheese ... pease!

Helena: I'm sorry Roman, we don't have any cheese.

Roman (goes to get his coat): Mama! Home!


Anonymous said...

How fun to read your update of a very special holiday time. The pictures are GREAT - Roman is cuter than pie.....or should I say cuter than trifle? Polina had a big smile on her face while looking at the pictures!

Anonymous said...

So fun to see pics of Roman! Looks like he is doing well and growing like a weed! Keep us updated!!!!
Jody (& Jason, Addie, & Will)

Joel and Clarion said...

We just tagged you guys! See our blog for the rules.