Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Of Bassets and Toddlers ...

Our big news comes in the shape of a four-legged, floppy-eared member of the family named Holly. After Missy passed away so suddenly, our house felt empty without the "clip-clop" of a basset's claws on the floors, the gentle snoring, and the soulful howl. We thought we would wait for a while and enjoy the peace and quiet, but something was missing ... we're a family of 8, mummy, daddy, toddler, 4 cats and a basset...we needed another basset! But not just any basset, we couldn't have a puppy because Roman is too young for one, and we wanted a young dog this time so we could spend many years together. We found a wonderful tan and white girl called Holly at Oregon Basset Rescue. She was a stray who was found two days before Christmas and has white patches that look like a snowy Christmas tree on her back, so the basset rescue named her Holly.
Roman was eager to meet our new dog but by the time we got to the Basset rescue, he was fast asleep. Holly jumped into the backseat and licked his face (and he still slept through it!). On the way home, we stopped for a bite to eat, and Holly stole Roman's sandwich, we knew things were back to normal in the Green family.

Holly soon made herself at home in the Green "pack." She is a lot more rambunctious than Missy (there's quite a difference between an 11 year old dog and a 1 year old dog!) Harry and Holly are best friends already (Harry was best friends with Missy too, and really seemed to miss her). Brother Tom gives Holly disdainful looks and the occasional swat. Aretha is gradually warming up to her and Sally thinks she is even more annoying than Roman and must be avoided at all costs.

We still miss our beautiful old girl Missy, but we don't have that sad empty feeling when we come home. Once again, there's the good old hound smell, the melodious snoring ... but not the howling. Holly is a barker, Missy rarely barked, Holly barks too much (at the mailman in particular) but she's still a pup so that is something we'll be working on. Despite our attempts, poor Holly does not yet know how to howl, although we almost got a howl out of her today. We used to have family howls with Missy (Roman is a good howler).

On February 12, we celebrated Gotcha Day (wow, it has been a long time since we updated our blog), which is the anniversary of the day we adopted Roman ... the day the orphanage workers handed him to us in little green tights. We have decided that we will spend each Gotcha Day together as a family doing something fun ...whatever Roman wants to do. It's our time to celebrate being together as a family.

For this Gotcha Day, Roman said he wanted to go on a boat with a loud horn ... well, a Washington State Ferry fit the bill. We took the ferry to Bainbridge Island and went to the Bainbridge children's museum, then had lunch at JJ's Fish House in Poulsbo.
We checked out all the boats at the Poulsbo Marina (they provide free life jackets for kids ...great idea) and visited Roman's friend Sam the octopus at the Poulsbo Marine Science Center. Sam is the same age as Roman and will soon be returned to his natural habitat as it is almost time for him to mate (octopuses mature a little faster than humans). He'll be replaced with another octopus though and we'll look forward to meeting him or her. Roman is also rather fond of Olive Oil the Seattle Aquarium's octopus, but Sam is his favorite.

Our Gotcha Day celebrations continued the following day when we went to the Pacific Science Center to visit the dinosaurs. Roman's favorite dinosaur is a T-Rex. Helen was sad to discover that her favorite dinosaur as a child, the Brontosaurus, is no longer an "official" dinosaur. Apparently, scientists thought they had discovered a new dinosaur back in 1879 but it was just good old Apatosaurus all along. So sad ... now Pluto isn't a planet any more and poor Brontosaurus never existed!

One of Roman's favorite adventures, and one we'll be telling for many years to come, was quite scary for us. He went through a two-week period of having nose bleeds, one so severe that our neighbor JoAnn who's a nurse at Harborview Medical Center couldn't stop it and recommended we call 911. Next thing we know, a fire engine showed up outside our house! Roman, who absolutely loves fire engines, screamed "FIRE TRUCK!!!!" and the nose bleed abruptly stopped. Several paramedics came rushing in, only to find that their mere appearance outside our house had stopped the nose bleed. Roman has now been invited to visit the fire station any time, and makes us take a detour by it whenever we are heading in that direction!

Back in March, we spent a fun morning sight-seeing with our friend Joel who was visiting Seattle on business. We met Joel and his wife Clarion at the Vlad Inn in Russia when they were meeting their sons for the first time. They adopted their boys Slav and Sergei last summer and live in St. Louis. Here's a link to their blog:

Helen, Roman and Joel on the monorail (Roman always tells the driver to go faster!)

Also in March, we had a reunion of the 3 Far Eastern Russian Rascals: Polina (3) from the Vladivostok area, Roman (2) from Vladivostok, and Luke (4) from Sahkalin Island. We will all be meeting up at WACAP Family Camp this summer, along with lots of other kids from all over the world.

Helen's mum, British Grandma, came to visit for almost three weeks at the end of April. Luckily her visit coincided with a bit of a heatwave so we spent much time on the beach building sandcastles, skimming stones, and paddling. (You'll notice that some of these photos look like they were taken in the middle of summer. That's because Seattle's weather has been very British lately - shorts and t-shirts one day, sweater the next!)

While Grandma Linda was visiting, we took Roman to his first baseball game. He loved every bit of it and is now a big Mariners fan! His favorites are Ichiro, Griffey, and the Mariner Moose. We've since been to two more games (Rich gets free tickets from Fox Sports) and Roman enjoys the whole experience. We only make it to the 7th inning stretch then it's time to go home to bed.
We got up to all sorts of adventures while Grandma Linda was here, including a visit to the museum of flight with Roman's friend Dawson and his mom. The boys had fun checking out everything from biplanes, to Concorde and the space shuttle.
We also took Roman for a haircut (always an adventure with a toddler). This was his third haircut but the first one at Kids Club in University Village. He likes to sit on the tractor at West Seattle Kids salon but we thought we'd try somewhere different this time. He enjoyed the yellow taxi but was disappointed there wasn't a tractor. He usually makes a big fuss and doesn't want his hair cut, but then the hair-stylist presents him with a box of cars and before long he's so engrossed he doesn't even notice them cutting his hair.

In this photo Grandma Linda and Roman are feeling sorry for Brontosaurus.

Since our last blog update, Roman had his first hearing test. We had no reason to be concerned but he had never had one as it isn't standard procedure in Russia. He actually enjoyed the experience. We went to Children's Hospital and it was so much fun for him because it was set up like a game where teddy bears play drums and tambourines. He even let them put headphones on him. His hearing is perfectly normal with no cause for concern.

At the end of April, Roman had his last day at speech therapy at Boyer Children's Clinic. He was kicked out because he was too good! He is a complete chatterbox who is constructing some quite long sentences, and his pronunciation is excellent. His longest sentence so far, and our personal favorite was delivered with an intensely serious expression:

"Mommy, recycle truck no come on Monday ... come on Tuesday, now"

and another favorite:

"Daddy took you Safeway last night ... tractor-trailer truck backed up to loading dock" (pronouns are still mixed up, he meant "daddy took me")

Roman with Heather, his speech therapist, on his last day at Boyer Children's Clinic.

He picks up words really quickly, in fact we've discovered that every word he hears goes into his brain, swishes around, and comes out in the next few days. It's fun to see who is contributing to his vocabulary. While Helen's mum was visiting, she said "don't kill it" when Roman was squeezing a worm a bit too hard. Now, for some reason we'd avoided the word"kill," it just seemed such a harsh word for a toddler and it wasn't one he'd picked up. Anyway, Helen's mum said"oh don't worry, he won't remember" Sure enough, the next morning Roman strolled out in the sunshine and saw a spider spinning her web right by our front door. "See spider" said Roman, "kill it!" ....thanks mum.

It's a joy to hear him talk because his accent is a mixture of American and English. It's not a blend of the two; each word is either pronounced with a completely American accent, or a completely English accent (having Helen's mum stay for two weeks helped get a bit of Lancashire in there). This way, we can tell which one of us he got the word from. The funniest thing is that he pronounces squirrel the English way. When Helen was Roman's age, she couldn't say squirrel properly and it came out "sqwirl" Her dad spent ages teaching her to say it properly. Well, it turns out that Americans pronounce squirrel "sqwirl!" Roman, however, pronounces it "sqwa-ir-rel" the English way. So we have something like, "mommy, mommy, sqwa-ir-rel ... mommy, mommy, car trans-pord-der!" Yes, daddy taught him the motor vehicles, mommy taught him the animals.

He now calls us mommy and daddy rather than mama and didda (we were so sad to see "didda" go, fortunately we have lots of recordings of it). Helen clung to the hope that he would call her "mummy" the English way but of course he has picked up "mommy" from all his friends who are starting to say "mommy" too, and of course Devlin, Kaysan and Lauren and his other big kid friends.
We just got back from visiting Rich's Grandparents Harvey and Mildred in Mondovi, Washington. It was Roman's 3rd visit to his Great-Grandparents. He enjoys being a "cowboy" out in the countryside, with Vali the horse who lives opposite, and lots of wide open spaces.

Missy loved Harvey and Mildred's and could quite happily of lived there. Allowed to roam off leash, play with other dogs, smell those country smells and be spoiled...what's not to like? We wondered if Holly would love it too. Sure enough, we got the impression that Holly could easily adjust to the country life. She had a ball playing with the neighbor dogs Scout and Skyer and even bonded with Vali.

Holly ... Farm Dog

We'll end this blog update with two exciting things! The first happened last week and caused almost as much excitement as the arrival of the fire engine at our house. Helen and Roman were taking Holly for a walk when two of Roman's most favorite things in the whole world pulled up right outside our house. A FLAT BED TOW TRUCK WITH A DIGGER ON IT! Here Roman is posing with his own digger (a Christmas gift from Grandma Victoria and Grandpa Gene). We watched that digger for more than an hour (I am not exaggerating). We then had to inspect the hole dug by the digger and were given an honorary pair of earplugs by the digger driver.

Then today, Roman pedaled his tricycle down the street for the first time! We got him the tricycle for Christmas but up until now he's mostly wanted to push it rather than pedal it. But just today, he really got the knack of peddling and now that's it ... he's off! He loves going everywhere under his own steam and doesn't want mummy or daddy to push him anymore. He was getting a bit frustrated as he found it difficult to pedal uphill. So we were trying to explain that even Lance Armstrong finds it harder to pedal uphill!

The last day of preschool is coming up next week. Roman really enjoyed his year with Teacher Ingrid. We're staying with South Seattle Community College Coop in September but moving to a different location. He'll be going to the Admiral Preschool, along with his friend Sebastian. He'll be in the 2 day class. One day Helen goes with him and the next day he's on his own.

We have all sorts of things planned for the summer including swimming lessons at Colman Pool (an outdoor saltwater pool), WACAP family camp at Sun Lakes, Day Out with Thomas the Tank Engine, and of course Lil Kickers soccer. But our biggest plan for the summer is POTTY TRAINING. Our goal is to have Roman potty trained by his 3rd birthday. Of course, the big question is ... will the Diaper Monologues become the Potty Monologues? Wait and see...


Gloria said...

We just back from Vlad - our first trip (to meet our new daughter and son). Our interpreter, Elana, asked us to say "hi" to you guys and she hopes that all is well and is sure that Roman is getting big.

Wonderful news on the new puppy! Houses sure do seem empty without them!

Ken & Gloria Duda

Anonymous said...

He is so adorable....and getting so big. I can hardly believe that he is the same little guy that we met back in Feb. 2008! Glad to see that all is going so well. Good luck on the potty training....I can't say that I envy you too much!

Hunter and Michael said...

Absolutely adorable! Love the pics Helen. Congratulations on the new doggie.

Hunter and Michael said...

Love the Mariners Games pics. I already have our little one's outfit and Mommy has hers, hehe.

Puppy is adorable!
I can just see our cat doing that.

Renee said...

Yeah, when he's old enough, can you just send him to Wisconsin? I'm sure Brian and I will be happy to borrow him for awhile. He's adorable!

~ Renee

Hunter and Michael said...

He is growing up so fast and what an adorable toddler Roman is!

Love the pics. Looks like you all are having a wonderful time.

Our trip was amazing and we are so happy to have our little Logan at home. It has been an inspiration reading your blog.

Thank you!

Anonymous said...

I love your blog! Roman is so cute and he is having so much fun playing outside! I love the pic with the slide!