Wednesday, February 28, 2007

February 28, 2007 Part 2

It's hard to believe our sons have been home for over a month now. Wow! Time does go by so fast. They are both doing very well, eating heartily, putting on weight, learning new things every day. It is amazing to watch them in action.

In this picture, Benjamin is on the left and Nicholas is on the right. My grandmother gave them the cute little short overalls and the red, white and blue onesies. This was the first day the boys have worn shorts and their poor little knees were red by the end of the day, especially Ben's, since he is not quite walking yet.

Close up of Nick. We believe he is pretty much right on target developmentally, although he is probably somewhat behind verbally. I think he will catch up quickly though. He is a quick learner.

His newest thing is that he will go to the fridge and look at me when he wants a drink from his sippy cup. He also goes to his high chair when he wants something to eat and he knows where the snack food is kept. He will stare at that cabinet when he wants something from there.

He is a very bright little boy and very active. Most people who meet him quickly come to the conclusion that he is a mama's boy, although they have not seen him with his father. As soon as daddy comes home, Nick is in daddy's arms.

And here is a close up of Benjamin. He has come so far developmentally in the past month, it is amazing. He walks long distances now, across a couple of large rooms and around the kitchen island. He is much better at maintaining his balance, although he still falls once in a while and he still holds his hands above his head. Basically, walking is still an effort for him and he crawls when he wants to get somewhere really fast. But he is walking so much more now and it is obvious that he enjoys it and is proud of himself when he walks longer distances.

He is also doing really well at self feeding now. The newest thing I have started is giving them some cheerios on their high chair tray in the morning, with their milk, while I finish preparing their oatmeal with applesauce and vitamins mixed in. The cheerios give Ben really good practice with his fine motor skills and also keeps them both happy while I finish breakfast prep. I have also started giving them a few chocolate teddy bear cookies, broken into smaller pieces, after lunch. They love them and this also gives Ben a lot of great practice with his fine motor skills. It's really making a difference quickly.

They have both become more picky about their eating. Usually, if they refuse something, it simply means they want to eat something else on their dish first and they will eventually go back to the food they refused and eat it also. Sometimes they do refuse something and just don't care for it. I made some stew and they did not want it. Ben was eating it until he saw Nick refuse it several times and then he refused it too. I think I put too much meat into for them.

Some of their frequent/favorite menu items include: green beans, peas, broccoli, corn, sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, wheat bread with pb & j, cream Cheese, tuna salad or just butter, beef or chicken hot dogs cut up very small, any kind of pasta, mac & cheese, bananas, strawberries, jello, scrambled eggs, cheese omelettes, yogurt with fruit (their regular morning snack), oatmeal with applesauce mixed in, pretty much any kind of casserole, chicken, salmon. I'm sure I'm leaving some things out but those are some of our regulars.

Every weekday morning, they have the oatmeal with applesauce and their vitamins mixed in for breakfast and then they have yogurt with fruit for mid-morning snack. For lunch we mix it up and they have something different each day, including pasta, hot dog or another type of meat, or some type of sandwich, plus a green veggie of some sort. For mid-afternoon snack they frequently have Phili Cream Cheese on toast with some sort of fruit. Sometimes we will also share a banana before or after snack time. For dinner, they normally eat what we eat these days, which normally includes at least one veggie. I try to make sure they get a yellow and/or orange veggie in the evening, since they normally have their green veggie for lunch. But sometimes we do it the other way around, since my husband and I like to have a green veggie for dinner a lot. I try hard to make sure they get two helpings of fruit and 2 or 3 helpings of veggies a day and, so far, that is working out pretty well. I'm sure things will probably change a bit when they learn to talk and express their wants more but I will always push the fruits, veggies and milk.

Now for the sad picture of the day. This is Ben with the new shiner that he got yesterday evening. I wrote about it in the last post, so I won't repeat it here. Poor little guy. He doesn't seem to notice it though.

Yesterday I took the boys to visit my mom and sister. My niece met us with her baby and we all went out to eat for lunch at a local place. We saw several of my mom's friends and a couple more came by her house to meet the boys and one of my brothers also stopped in. My mom lives in a very small town and most of her friends have known my sister and I since we were very young. My mom enjoyed getting to show off her new grandsons and her great-granddaughter. We also went to my sister's house so her two kids could see the boys, as they had not seen them since we arrived home from Russia.

It was a fun day for all, although the boys did not have very long naps. They went to bed early last night and have taken longer naps today because they were so tired from yesterday....but they just woke up from nap #2. Gotta go!

February 28, 2007

I have been thinking about this and meaning to share my thoughts so here goes.

The advice of pretty much all of the adoption books I had read was to answer our children's cries immediately, pretty much at all times, until they learn to trust us to meet their needs. I understand the reasoning behind this advice; many (probably most) PI children have never gone through that cycle of learning to trust, where they cry because they have a need that is not being met and an adult answers their cry quickly, takes care of the need and soothes them back to happiness.

Just to properly set the stage here, I am a new mom and most of you already know that. However, I do have a lot of experience with nieces and nephews and babysitting with children of friends, or even just hearing about their experiences.

As I have mentioned before, our two sons are sleeping very well and I am so very thankful for that. I'm sure some people will not agree with this approach but, I did not listen to the advice of answering the cries immediately, when it came to sleeping.

Here is why: I have seen so many cases where parents (mostly parents with their first child) could not stand to hear their baby cry so, every time their baby cried, they immediately responded. They did this at night also. OR, the parents decided that it was so sweet and nice to rock their baby to sleep at night (and it is, we all love doing that) that they did it every night. OR they put the baby to sleep with a pacifier or a bottle or something like that.

My belief is that this type of behavior by parents leads to children who don't sleep very well, because they don't know how to fall asleep without the help of their parents or without the pacifier or bottle. When the child wakes up during the night, they immediately cry because they are alone and they don't know how to go back to sleep on their own. I have seen this happen so many times and it is such a painful struggle for both parents and children to go through. Because eventually, the parents want the child to learn to go to sleep on their own, without being rocked. And eventually the parents want the child to go to sleep without the aid of the bottle or pacifier because the parents are tired of being awakened during the night and having to go back into the child's room and put the pacifier back in the child's mouth.

I was very anxious to see how our children would do with sleeping. I had heard so many various stories about PI children and sleeping habits so I was not sure what to expect. I have more experience than my husband, in this area, so he pretty much looked to me to decide how to handle the sleeping situation. I was very careful because I know that a very caring parent can so easily ruin a child's sleeping pattern simply by responding too quickly to a cry.

Our boys have now been home for over a month, so I am having a hard time remembering how things went when we first took custody of them. I know there have been times when they have cried, when we put them into their cribs. In fact, they normally both cry for at least 2 minutes after we leave the room, which is very normal for small children, as they don't like to be separated from their parents.

I don't think they have ever cried more than 30 minutes before falling asleep. If one of them does cry for 20 to 30 minutes, I normally go in and check him to see if he has a dirty diaper. If so, I quickly and quietly change him, I don't talk to him a lot and I immediately put him back in his crib and leave the room.

When we first took custody of the boys, I slept terribly because I was always listening for them. I am a very light sleeper anyway, most of the time, and I heard every peep they made and frequently jumped out of bed and started to move towards their room. Our room is downstairs and theirs is upstairs and I never made it that far before they would quit crying, fortunately. I think if I had gotten there too quickly, I probably would have been setting myself and my son up for a repeat situation the next night and every night afterwards.

There was one night, not long after we got home with the boys, where Nicholas started crying after he had only been asleep for maybe an hour or an hour and a half. I knew by his cry that he was scared. I could just tell and I knew he had woken up and probably did not recognize his surroundings and he was scared. I had heard his scared cry before so it was easy to recognize, plus it was not a cry that he normally used during the day. It was a different, louder, more like screaming kind of cry. I immediately rushed to his room and picked him up. I held him, standing next to his bed, in the semi-dark room, for just a few minutes, whispering in his ear softly. Then I handed him his little stuffed animal that he loves and put him back in his crib and I didn't hear another peep from him.

He woke up crying a couple of other times though, when it was clearly not time to get up, and I could tell by his cry that he was not scared. He just woke up and was trying to get back to sleep. In these cases, I did not go into him right away. I let him cry for a while, watching my watch and listening closely to the tone of his cry. He went back to sleep within 15 to 20 minutes. He did this 2 or 3 times and then he quit doing it.

Again, I know that there are a lot of people out there who will not agree with this approach. My advice is to be very careful about how you handle sleeping because it is so very easy to ruin a child's sleep habits and make him/her depend on you too much, which is not good for child or parent because neither of you will be getting good sleep and sleep is so important for everyone.

On the other hand, I have been very careful about making sure I answer the cries of my children during the day. As a mom of two toddlers, there are times when I just can't physically do it. For example, there have been times when Benjamin wanted me to hold him when I was trying to fix them something to eat. He would get very frustrated with me because I would have to put him down to do certain things. He seems to have gotten past that for the most part.

I do give the a lot of attention though and am frequently sitting in a rocking chair nearby when they are playing, so they frequently come to me and want to sit in my lap and rock for a few minutes and then it's back to playing again. I also respond immediately to any injuries and I hold them and talk softly to them and they respond well to this and look for me when they hurt themselves. I am careful though not to make a big deal over a bump that obviously did not hurt them much.

Speaking of injuries, our little Benjamin has a black eye. Last night he was standing next to this round end table, which is between two chairs in our living room. He is just tall enough that he can just see over this table; I think it comes to probably just below his nose when he is standing next to it. I did not see it happen but he either bent over or fell and hit his cheek bone just next to his eye on the edge of the table. It actually cut him on this cheek and immediately started swelling. Poor little guy. I felt so badly about it and I felt even worse that I was in the middle of changing Nick's dirty diaper and could not go to him immediately. His daddy went to him immediately but babies need their mommies when they are hurt like that:). Nothing against daddies; they are very important in a child's life. But mommies tend to softly speak sweet, caring, understanding words in babies ear, while holding him close and it helps them to feel better. I quickly finished the diaper changing and went to wash my hands and my husband even said that he could tell that Ben was watching me as I went to wash my hands because he wanted me. I took him and held him close as soon as I could and I think he got over it faster than I did. He was ready to go play, while I was still feeling terrible about it. He woke up with a black eye this morning. Bummer, huh?

Monday, February 26, 2007

February 26, 2007

Thanks so much for all of the great advice. I really appreciate it and am already putting some of it into use, with more to come.

Things here have been fairly uneventful since my last post. We had another visit from my sister and mom. The boys are getting to know them and enjoy their visits. My sister always comes prepared to cook a yummy meal. This time was a special visit because it was my birthday and my mom's birthday is the day after mine, so we were celebrating both birthdays. My sister made her wonderful lasagna for us and we all enjoyed it tremendously. She also made an extra for me to put in the freezer for later, which was so nice and thoughtful of her. She brought cupcakes that she had made and my mom brought us a small cake so we had some good treats today.

Since we have Valentine's Day, our anniversary and my birthday so close together in Feb., we are never without fattening food. I have enjoyed it too much:).

The weather here has been beautiful so the boys and I were able to get out and take strolls a couple of days. I like getting them out of the house and I am becoming more efficient and confident about taking them places.

I was also able to get out and do a little yard work, during naps on Friday and Saturday. It was quite a treat for me. I really enjoy doing yard work; I find it relaxing and rewarding, even if it does require hard work at times. I am anxiously awaiting April to see how the many many azaleas that I planted last year turn out. It took a lot of hard work so I will be very disappointed if they are not blooming beautifully this year. I will include pics when the time comes.

We took the boys to church again yesterday. My husband stayed with them the first hour, while I went to our Bible study class. We left them the second hour and went to the church service and they did fine. When we returned, they were each being rocked; Nicholas looked like he was asleep and Benjamin was well on his way. They were happy to see us though. We took them to one of our favorite restaurants to eat and they did really well. That was only the second time they have been out to eat, since they have been home. Today they will be going to the grocery store for the first time. First's are always fun.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

February 21, 2007 Part 3

Ok, this is something with which I am really struggling. I am a fairly neat person. I try to make sure that everything has a place and everything is in it's place most of the time so it is really easy to keep things relatively neat. I do go through messy phases but they normally don't last for more than a few days. After that, I can't stand it anymore so I clean up again.  My husband is also a fairly neat person, at least in the places I care about.

Then there come the toddlers. This is where I struggle. My husband and I had figured out a system between us that worked for both of us most of the time. My real issue with the messiness is having to constantly clean and re-clean messes. Now that we have the boys, messy has a whole new meaning. Somebody help me!

The biggest issue I have is when they eat. If they could feed themselves, I think I would just look the other way and let them go at it. If I didn't see it, maybe it wouldn't bother me so much. But I have to feed them a lot of the stuff they eat, or at least help them.

In my efforts to avoid messes, or keep the boys from making messes, I feel that I am being too controlling of them when they eat. I don't want to be a control freak with them and I don't want them to have eating issues or general issues from an over-controlling mom, when they get older.

What I need to know is, what is reasonable to expect from boys this age. Nicholas is now 15 months old and Benjamin is 16.5 months old. Neither can eat with utensils, although they are interested in trying. Nick can feed himself finger foods.  Ben makes a good effort and we help out.  We already have a rule that you do not throw food, cups and utensils on the floor. They know this, although they will occasionally do it to test if the rule still applies. I think this is reasonable and, based on their response, I know they are totally capable of this. Yes, there are many times when things accidentally ends up on the floor and that's OK....or I don't see how something ended up on the floor so I assume a positive intention. We try hard to look at the intention and attitudes and we know that accidents will happen, no big deal.

So, other than not throwing things on the floor, what can you expect from children of this age? Do you or should you let them play with/in their food? Do you give them utensils and let them drop food all over the floor? I suppose you have to do this in order for them to learn to eat with a utensil. Sometimes I load the spoon for them and then they might pick up the spoon and start waving it around. Yuck! Do you let them play with their sippy cup, banging it on the highchair tray, even if it means that milk is being sprayed all over the floor? Do you try to teach them not to put their hands in their hair when they are eating? What else?

I really need some help with this. I struggle with it at every meal. My husband is so laid back about all of this. He doesn't mind the messes, although he also does not have to spend nearly as much time cleaning them up. I do wish I could be more laid back about this though. I am trying but it is not easy for me.

In the rest of the house, it really has not been an issue yet. I have figured out ways to handle it where it does not get too bad, it is very quick to clean up toys and it does not bother me. It is really just the eating thing that gets to me, for now anyway.

I am definitely much more easy going about messiness than I used to be, so I am improving. I think I still have some improvement to do during their meal times though. Otherwise, my children will never learn how to use utensils and I will be feeding them until they leave home:).

February 21, 2007 Part 2

It is at least 70 degrees out today and we have a clear blue sky. I just couldn't stand  NOT being outside today, if you know what I mean. I think the boys have felt the same way because they kept pointing outside yesterday (it was very pretty yesterday also).

So today, we went out between naps and this has been much much better. I still get to have my two breaks, which gives me time to do some housework, rest up and prepare meals. But we also got to go out for a little while and there was still enough time for them to play for a little while when we got home before nap #2. This is definitely the way to do it. We are going to have a fun summer!!

Before we took off, I ran across these little hats I had bought for the boys a while back, thinking that we would need hats when we took them from the orphanage but forgetting that it would be winter so these hats would not work. Oops.

I had to include the pics of the boys in their hats because they are just too funny.

This is Nicholas in his hat. Isn't he too cute?!

And here are both Nicholas (forefront) and Benjamin (background). Doesn't Benjamin look just thrilled to have his hat on??

Another picture of Benjamin, very thrilled with his hat. Needless to say, they did not wear them very long.

We went for a walk along the river and we stopped for a cup of ice cream. When Nicholas first tried the ice cream (chocolate), he pulled back as soon as it touched his tongue. They are still not used cold stuff. He tried it again and the chocolate won him over. I didn't bring the diaper bag because I knew it was going to be a quick trip. So I ended up having only dry napkins to wipe their faces after the ice cream. Don't they take great pictures?? Nick is on the right and Ben on the left. Not sure why Ben was looking so unhappy and Nick looked kind of scared or worried because they enjoyed the ice cream once they got used to the coldness. Funny picture.

February 21, 2007

Yesterday I took the boys to visit the ladies in my Bible study. I will not be attending for quite a while but I really enjoyed it when I was going. These ladies are such wonderful people and they prayed for us so much while we were traveling and also while we were waiting through the adoption process. They really enjoyed meeting the boys and the boys had a good time being the center of attention.

After that, I took the boys to Target for some quick shopping. This was their very first trip to a store and they were wide eyed, taking it all in. Target has these wonderful carts that can hold two children, which was wonderful. The difficult thing is getting the boys into the store to begin with, especially if they have recently taken all of the carts into the store. I had to drive around until I found some carts outside and then I parked next to them. I put the boys in one of these carts and took them inside, where I noticed the nice carts for two children, so we switched carts.

Target has a million (very cute) sandals for little girls, which is wonderful. I think they had maybe three pairs to choose from for little boys. What's up with this??? This is crazy.

They both fell asleep on the way home, so I stopped by Sonic:) and got something to eat, while they slept. I drove around a while, so they could get in a partial nap. I drove over to the super Walmart to see if they also had carts that could hold two children. I saw some in the parking lot but I like the Target carts better. I think the plastic carts are nicer than the metal ones. I went through the drive through at Braums, thinking I would treat myself to a small ice cream cone but, wouldn't you know it, the boys woke up just when I was ordering. I told the poor lady at the drive through never mind my order and took the boys home. They were both staring at me wide eyed though, when I looked back at them, after talking to the lady over the intercom. They were probably thinking, what is our crazy mom doing now??!  

It seems that anytime I take the boys out for something (usually a doctors appointment but yesterday the visit and shopping), I end up feeling very exhausted by the end of the day. I think this is because, so far, every time we have made these outings, it is during morning nap time, which means I don't get much of a break for the day. Of course, I'm still getting used to being a mom of two toddlers also, so that's probably some of it. But I seem to enjoy the days where we get to stay home, relax, the boys take two good naps, and I have two good breaks. This is a bit of a surprise to me. I guess I thought I would be taking them places and doing lots of things with them but maybe they are still a bit young for that. Once they are both walking well I a sure it will be easier.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

February 20, 2007

Here is Nicholas, holding my sneaker. It's only size 7.5 but it looks huge next to him! He really likes shoe strings or anything soft to hold while he is sucking his thumb. He didn't do this for very long though. I'm sure the shoe was a bit heavy for him.

Do you like the socks and sandals:)? This is my solution to cold feet on our wood floors. They slip and fall too easily with just socks, even with the little grippers on the bottom. Their feet get too hot in their winter shoes and their summer sneakers don't fit yet. I may have to buy a smaller pair of sneakers for Ben. When I got the sandals, I realized that his feet are quite a bit smaller than Nick's.

Here is Ben, feeding himself a cracker. This was a big step for us. He is still not able to use his pincer grasp very well, although he does better with his left hand than his right, or so it seems. He is making an effort to feed himself at times though and we are happy to see this.

One of my favorite pics of Ben, learning to walk. He is really doing well with it. This is the way he walks, hands up in the air and a huge grin on his face. Very cute.

Notice his fingers on his left hand are crossed. He does this a lot. It is so cute!

A picture of Nick, sleeping on the living room couch, when he was still recovering from his bout of pneumonia. He's all better now and finished with his medication.

This is the same day Nick was sleeping on the couch and Ben was playing in the living room, wishing Nick would wake up. I thought this was too funny. He will sometimes lift one foot off the floor, so he can lean into the toy basket further. He actually fell in head first once and it was hysterical (he was not hurt). My mom and sister were here to see that and we all had a good chuckle.

Ben, palming the ball. He was excited when he realized that he could do this.

Monday, February 19, 2007

February 19, 2007

Yes, today is our anniversary. My husband and I were married 2 years ago today and it was a very special day and a beautiful wedding. We have had a busy two years: we moved from Texas to Oklahoma, my husband changed jobs, I quit my job to be a stay at home wife and mother, we sold a house and bought a new house and, of course, we adopted our two little sons. It has been a wonderful two years and I would not change a thing. We are very blessed indeed.

The boys are both doing wonderfully. I have a few pics I have taken and wanted to put them up today but I have not had time to upload them. Maybe tomorrow.

I am very impressed with how well they are adjusting, so far.  So far, our biggest issues seem to be fairly common to all children, such as they take toys from each other and sometimes hit each other. They are also nice to each other quite often though and sometimes I can tell they end up hitting because they know it is not allowed and they do it to get attention. It is amazing how quickly they will move to doing something negative, just to get some kind of attention, especially when they really do get our attention most of the time. There is very little time that they are just playing on their own while we are busy doing something else. And, when I am here during the day with them on my own, forget talking on the phone when they are awake. I don't do it often anyway but the few calls I have taken during these times leave me promising myself that I will let the answering machine take the calls in the future, when the boys are awake.

Really though, other than that, they seem to be doing great. They get impatient and whiny if they do not get their food quickly when they are really hungry, such as first thing in the morning. I remember taking care of my niece when she was around 6 or 7 months old and she was kind of like that too though. So, this seems pretty normal at this point. They have gotten to where they will push away their food or drink when they are full, which is great.

Benjamin is still working on trying to feed himself, although his pincer grip must improve some before he will be very good at it. Today, he fed himself a cracker though. I took a picture of it and will post it with other pics later. He will also pull his sippy cup up for a drink, although he will only use one hand, so he needs some help if the cup is not full. We have tried to get him to use both hands but he does not seem to be interested in doing this yet. I noticed that he does the same thing, when trying to pick up a ball. He never uses both hands, although I have seen him use both hands to play with a toy. So Ben is still working on catching up developmentally and he still has a ways to go. His walking continues to improve and he can take 8 to 10 steps on his own and can turn a little better on his own also. He is trying to walk between pieces of furniture and other objects, on his own, more and more. So it probably won't be very long before he will be walking all over the house. He is a bit more quiet than Nick, although he goes through periods of time where he is chattering a lot. If he is trying to say actual words, I have not heard any that I recognize yet, other than mama and dada.

Nick seems to be pretty much on target developmentally. His vocabulary increases a bit each day. His newest words are banana and tractor. He chatters a lot and will frequently try to repeat words, when we are trying to get him to say a word.

I can't think of much else to report about how they are doing. They are still sleeping really well. I think we could almost set our clocks by their sleep schedule. We have adjusted their schedule a bit. Now they are going to bed at 8:00pm most nights and then they wake up around 7:30am. They go down for nap at 9:30 but are still sleeping until noon. I had been putting them down around 10:00 but they kept sleeping to 12:30, so I adjusted their schedule a bit. They take their second nap around 3:30. It is 5:30 now and they are still asleep but I think they will probably wake up any minute. I am very very very thankful about how they sleep. This is such an answer to prayer and I know most new parents don't have it this easy...and I'm sure it probably won't always be this easy for us. I don't do very well without sleep though, so I am very thankful about how well they are sleeping now.

When we put them down, we hardly ever go back into their room. The longest one of them (Ben - he always has a harder time falling asleep than Nick) has ever cried before falling asleep is 30 minutes. One or the other has occasionally awakened before the expected wake-up time, but not very often. Yesterday, Ben had a tough time getting a good nap because of untimely poops. After changing him, I put him back down and he did go back to sleep for a little while but still ended up waking up before his nap time was over. So, once in a while that happens but, for the most part, they are good sleepers. Nick usually just needs to have something soft to hold on to with one hand and his thumb in his mouth with the other and he is all set. He might cry for a few seconds but he is usually quiet before we get back downstairs. For Ben, it really depends on how tired he is. Worst case scenario is that he might cry for 20 or 30 minutes, although 10 to 15 is more normal for him. He is a really good sleeper though, once he is out. So if he wakes up before nap time is over, it is usually because he had an untimely poop.

Nick is also a good sleeper, once he is out, although he tends to cry out some here and there. When he was sick and he napped on the couch in the living room one day recently, I got to see this in action. I think what happens is that, once his really deep sleep is over, he tends to half wake once in a while, to turn over or reposition, and he realizes his thumb is no longer in his mouth, so he cries out and puts his thumb back in his mouth but he never really wakes up. I have heard him wake up once in a great while but he is normally back to sleep before I even have enough time to go upstairs to check on him. There has been one or two times that I could tell by his cry that he was scared, maybe had a bad dream or something, and was not going to go back to sleep without a little help. I went into his room, spoke softly to him, handed him back his soft blanket and he put his thumb back in his mouth, laid back down and went back to sleep.

I'm telling you, this is a miracle, an answered prayer.  I thank the Lord often for how well they sleep, although probably not often enough.

So, things are going very well overall. We are adjusting and figuring out how to get our needs met, while also meeting the needs of our sons. We still have a lot to learn but we are learning a lot as we go. Ah, the boys are waking; it's 5:40 so they are pretty much right on time. Must go get my little guys.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

February 18, 2007

We made it to church today, all four of us. This was the first time the boys and I have been since we returned from Russia. It was so nice to be back in church and it was great to see everyone and introduce our sons to so many people who had prayed for us.

We took the boys to their classroom and met the folks who take care of the children in their room. I stayed with them, while my husband went to our Bible study class. They both got down to play fairly quickly. I was sitting on the floor with them for a while. I still thought they would stay pretty close by but they got busy playing and were not too concerned about me. Around the middle of the hour, I gave them each a snack and changed diapers and then they were off playing again. Towards the end of the hour, Nick came to me several times to be held and rocked. He was getting tired. He is still recovering from his bout with pneumonia so he still tires a bit easier than normal.

My husband came back, after our Bible study class was over. We had planned to take them to the "crying" room, as there is a TV in there where parents can still watch and listen to the sermon. However, the boys were doing so well, we decided to go ahead and go to the church service and leave them in their room. They have pagers so we took one, just in case. I'm not sure I would have left them otherwise. We never received a page, which was great. It was wonderful to be back in service and it was especially nice to be at church with our kids.

Afterwards, we went back to their room to get them. As soon as Nick saw me, his little face puckered up and he started to cry. It was kind of funny because they said he had been fine and had played the entire hour we were gone and that was the first time he had cried. Ben was being rocked by one of the caregivers. Both boys were so tired that they crashed as soon as they were in the car. We picked up some carry-out food on our way home and fed them as soon as we got home and then put them down for naps.

Overall, a good first Sunday back at church with the boys.

Friday, February 16, 2007

February 16, 2007

One week down, a million left to go:). This was our first full week of me staying home by myself with the boys and my husband going to work. We had a pretty good week, considering everything that we had going on. I am very glad that it is Friday though.

The boys had good naps today, I was able to get a great night of sleep last night, and Nicholas was definitely feeling much much better today. So, all of the stars were aligned!

I have been able to spend a ton of time with them this week. I am trying very hard to do the house work when they are sleeping or just let it go. I never use the computer, watch TV or read while they are awake. They do not watch any television. I engage with them, either watching them play and commenting on what they are doing or showing me, reading to them, giving lots of hugs and kisses and rocking and playing with them, playing children's music and singing to them, etc.  We have had a lot of fun.

Ben is now around 16.5 months old and Nick is now about 15 months old. We were looking at some of the pics from when we first met the boys and were amazed at how much they have already changed.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

February 15, 2007

First of all, today we took Benjamin to the pediatric cardiologist and found out that he is basically perfectly fine. This was a huge relief and an answer to prayer, since the radiologist who read Ben's XRay told us that his aorta went down the opposite side of his chest than normal, which made us question whether there would be other issues. Today we found out this is not the case; his aorta is perfectly normal, which is great.

He does have a small "hole" in his heart. There is another name for this but I can't remember what it is. Anyway, pretty much everyone is born with this hole but it normally heals over on it's own. They said Ben's may still heal over but, even if it doesn't, he will be fine with it and won't need to have any type of surgery to have it fixed. It is very small and there are lots of people with this who live perfectly normal lives. This was such great news and another wonderful answer to our prayers.

Nicholas is feeling a little better this evening but I am hoping we'll see an even bigger difference tomorrow. His fever is now almost gone but he is still very clingy and whiny, so I know he is still not feeling like himself.

We left the doctor's office today around 10:30 and they usually nap from 10:00 to noon. They both fell asleep in the car within about 10 minutes so I drove around for for 2 hours so they would have a good nap and still be on their schedule. I knew if I took them home right away, they would both wake up and would not go back to sleep and then I would have to little cracky-pants all day. So, I drove around and looked at the new houses being built. Ben started waking up around 12:30 so I headed home and brought them both inside. Ben was in a great mood and started playing right away. Nick was crying, as I took off his snowsuit, and he quickly fell asleep in my arms, while I was rocking him. I put him on the couch, where he could not fall off, and he slept there until around 3:30. I couldn't believe it. So, Nick woke up 30 minutes before Ben went down for his second nap.

So, the gist of this is that they ended up on separate nap schedules and I did not have one moment of downtime the entire I have not slept well two nights in a row because I have been listening for Nick, since he is sick. Today was a very, very long day for me. I am so happy that we do not have to go anywhere tomorrow and the boys can get back on their normal schedule (and so can I).

The interesting thing that I saw today was each child missed the other one, when they were on separate sleep schedules. Ben kept wanting to wake up Nick and I could tell he missed him and I could tell Nick missed Ben also when Ben was napping. For me, it was a great confirmation that we did the right thing by adopting two boys together. When they were both awake this evening, I could tell they were happy to be playing together again.

Most of the time they play more next to each other, rather than really with each other. They do frequently play with the same toy. Sometimes this goes OK but other times they kind of bicker at each other, trying to take toys away from each other. There have been a couple of times though that I truly have seen them play together and it really surprised me. Just a couple of days ago they were hitting a ball, making it roll back and forth between them. They were having a really fun time together and laughing. Another time was in our hotel in Moscow, when they were crawling down this little hallway, following each other and laughing. It is cute to see them play together. We are very blessed....and I am very tired.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

February 13, 2007

I've been working on this post for several days now. Unfortunately, I have not had a lot of time to work on it so it has been coming along pretty slowly. Better late than never though, right?

Yesterday my mom and sister came for a visit. They live about an hour and a half from where we live, so I really appreciate that they make the time to come and visit me and the boys. It was really nice to see them again and the boys enjoyed their visit. Benjamin especially enjoyed them.

Nicholas has not been feeling well and was a bit clingy/whiny and has been for about the last two or three days. Yesterday evening, he ended up with a fever of just over 103. Dr. Dad got out all of his doctor equipment and started listening to his lungs and looking in his ears, etc. Nick's pulse was high and his respriations per minute were also pretty high, although his lungs sounded fine. We gave him some baby Motrin and put him to bed and then my husband also went back to his office to get this small, portable device that measures the oxygen level in the blood (that thing with the red light that they frequently put on a person's finger when they are in the hospital). We woke him up while checking his oxygen level because we wanted to rule out a serious case of pneumonia. His oxygen level was great so we went to bed. Nick seemed to sleep pretty well, although he woke up at 7:00am, which was about an hour earlier than normal and he still had a fever.

Ben slept until 8:30am and Nick went back to sleep while I was rocking him, after he had eaten a little oatmeal and drank some milk. I let them both sleep as long as they would because my husband had made an appointment for Nick at 10:15. I took them both in to the clinic where my husband works and they ordered a chest XRay and checked him for a bladder infection, since he didn't have any obvious signs of what was causing the 103.3 fever. Turns out that his chest XRay indicated that he was just getting started with a bout of pneumonia. We already had the appropriate antibiotic, as we had gotten it for our trip to bring the boys home, just in case. So I brought both boys home, gave them lunch (Ben ate lunch; Nick didn't feel like having any lunch at all), gave Nick a dose of the antibiotic and put them both down for a nap around 1:00. Ben woke up just before 4:00; I think Nick probably would have slept longer but, when he saw me, he was up and probably realized how miserable he felt. His Motrin had worn off and he was chilling and shivering. I felt so bad for him. I gave him more Motrin and dressed him warmer until his fever broke again. They both went down for the night at 8:00 but we are planning to wake Nick up at 10:00 for one more dose of Motrin, with hopes it will help him have a better night of sleep. I am hoping and praying he feels better when he wakes up tomorrow morning. Tomorrow morning at 9:00, we have Ben's appointment with the pediatric cardiologist to discuss the hole in his heart, which XRay's show is still there.

So, you can see why I have had a hard time finishing this post. Now for the lighter fare, pictures!

Here is a picture of Benjamin walking, with hands held high above his head and a big grin on his face. This is pretty much how he looks every time he tries to walk on his own. He is very excited with his progress, as are we.

I took a bunch of random shots yesterday of the boys at play and thought I would share them.

Nicholas - was sitting against the window, playing with a toy for 10 or 15 minutes, until I started taking pictures. He was starting to move toward me in this shot and was very interested in seeing the camera. I made the mistake of showing them their pictures, after taking shots one day, so now that are overly interested in the camera and I have to sneak around with it.

Benjamin walked from where I was on the couch to the window/door and then started touching his brother and, at times, trying to hit him. Some normal fun time at our house:). Luckily they don't hit very hard yet, although we are still working on teaching them not to hit others.

Nicholas was very interested in Benjamin's overalls, but also wanting to touch/hit him back.

Benjamin, turning to look at me after I told him "no hitting" and "be nice"...."who, me??".

Benjamin "touching" Nick's face.

I just noticed that these pics are all out of order but I'm too tired to fix them.

Benjamin handed Nicholas the panda teddy bear. Nicholas loves soft, stuffed animals.

Ben, retrieving the panda teddy bear from the toy basket and throwing/handing it to Nick.

Nick, getting a toy from the toy basket. This is the toy that he spent 10 or 15 minutes playing with, just before I took that picture of him you can see how these pics are very much out of order...but cute nonetheless, yes?

Sunday, February 11, 2007

February 11, 2007

Yesterday evening, my husband and I were both in the living room, playing with the boys. Benjamin decided to start working on his walking again. I was sitting on the couch and he was standing next to me, holding on. All of a sudden, he put both of his hands above his head and took off walking across the living room, with a huge grin on his face (I really must try to capture a picture of him doing this). My husband and I were both surprised because it was really the first time that he attempted to walk more than 2 or 3 steps without help. He can now take 7 or 8 steps on his own, although he normally ends up picking up speed along the way, which causes him to fall. It is very funny to watch him though because he always puts both arms straight up. I think he figured out that this helps him maintain his balance a little better.

He is so happy with his progress, every time he attempts to walk. It is really cute to see him learning to walk and I am happy we have been able to see this, since we have missed out on so many other firsts. He has also started using his pincer grasp at times and is feeding himself more and more. It is absolutely amazing how far he has come in just a month or less of being with us.

This morning, my husband and I were talking about things now, as I was sharing with him my thoughts that I posted about yesterday. I was saying how their play time is so very important to them and it is so obvious by just looking at how far Ben has come in his development in just a few weeks. It really never occurred to me before, that play time for children is so important to their development. I guess that just tells how little I understood about child development. There really is so much to learn. For now, we will just hang out a lot and let them play as much as they want.

When they are playing, I normally sit in a nearby chair or on the floor with them. I am usually either trying to play with them, teaching them little things here and there, or just watching and commenting when they show me something or bring something over for me to examine. And then they will come over to be picked up and loved on every once in a while also. It is a special time for us and I think it is invaluable.

For so long, they were separated by the adults in their life by barriers. They were either in a crib or a play pen. They spent their time with other children their age, learning what they could and doing what they could to get by in that environment. They had very interaction with adults. So now, they really need as much of it as they can get, along with their play time, and they just eat it up. They love to be with us. If I am doing something in the kitchen, they will normally drag toys into the kitchen to be near me. So I normally try to put kitchen work on hold until they are napping and I spend my time with them when they are awake.

Being a parent is a wonderful blessing. Being a mom is a beautiful thing. I really do love it and I love them so much more every day. Time to go get them up from nap.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

February 10, 2007 Part 2

I have read so many adoption stories, in books and on the Internet and so many parents have such different experiences, as to when they really started feeling that their newly adopted children are "their children" and they really started feeling the love towards them. Actually, I have heard this is also true for bio parents.

Some parents say it is immediate and they felt totally in love with their child as soon as they saw him/her. Some say it took a month or more or less. I always found these stories very interesting and I wondered what it would be like for me. I prayed that God would help me to love them right away, because I knew, from what I had read, that it is harder when you don't feel it right away and, gee whiz, who wouldn't want to feel that love for their child right away.

So, my experience is this. I do love them and I have since we met them but I know it is not the same love I will feel for them a year from now. I can already tell that, as each day goes by, I love them a little bit more and they move just a little deeper into my heart.

For me, I think it is similar to marrying my husband. I know I love him more today than I did the day we got married and I know I will love him more 10 years from now than I do today. Those day-in, day-out experiences together help us to grow closer each day. Our experiences together help us to have more fond memories together, as each year goes by.

Another interesting thing I am going through is kind of trying to find who I am now. That may sound a bit strange and I have not quite put my finger on it yet but I know I feel different about who I am now. Yesterday I went to the grocery store by myself. It is the first time I have been away from our children since we picked them up from the orphanage. I had such mixed feelings about it; it was really odd. I am still trying to sort through it. On the one hand, I felt like I needed a break, as much from being locked up inside of the house as being with the children or even with "people". I had not been alone, truly alone, for almost a month and I am an introvert, so I need to be alone sometimes. On the other hand, I was worried the boys would wonder where I was or cry for me or something and I was anxious to get back to them. It was a strange feeling.

As I said, I am an introvert. When I take the personality tests, I always score on the borderline between introvert and extrovert but I always land on the introvert side of the borderline. I have heard that the best way to tell if you are an introvert or an extrovert is by looking at what you need to recharge. If you need alone time to recharge and re-energize, then you are an introvert. If being around other people gets you recharged and re-energized, then you are an extrovert. I am definitely an introvert and so is my husband.

I had thought that being a stay at home mom might be a little easier for an introvert, since I can sometimes be quite the hermit / homebody. I am not sure if this is true or not but I am not too bothered by being shut up in the house for long periods of time, especially when it is really cold outside. When spring arrives, I will want to be outside much more and hopefully our sons will be at an age that will make it easy enough to be doable for me and also very fun for us all. I want to spend a lot of time outside with them.

So, to sum up, I am kind of trying to figure out who I am these days and how happy I am going to be in my new role as stay-at-home-mom. I think I will end up being very happy in this new role; actually, I am pretty confident about this. But I think it might take me a while before I feel that way completely. Don't get me wrong. I am very happy and thankful to have our boys home at last and I already can't imagine my life without them. I do sometimes miss watching TV and going to the movies a little though, even though I can watch TV while they nap or at night and we can still rent movies. I think this cold, and the sinus infection I had before the cold, have had an impact on my viewpoint though, because it has kept me in a low-energy state, which I really dislike. It is no fun to feel tired all of the time.

February 10, 2007

Things here continue to go well. I survived my first two days of staying home alone with the boys when my husband went back to work on Thursday and Friday. Thursday I took them to the clinic where my husband works to have their TB test results read and everything came back normal. All of their blood tests came back normal, which was all great news. We are still waiting to hear back about Ben's chest XRay, as to whether or not he still has the hole in his heart. Hopefully we will hear something next week.
Today was our last day to receive the wonderful gift of dinners every other night for two weeks. Our Sunday school Bible study class has been delivering dinners for us and the meals have absolutely been wonderful. I told my husband today that the thought of them stopping just makes me want to cry:). He said "we definitely have to get the recipes". I agree; all of the meals we received have been so tasty and they have brought salads and desserts and bread and gifts for the boys too. We sure do have a very generous and thoughtful class.

I have yet to attempt to go to the grocery store with the boys. My husband has been doing the shopping so far, thankfully. It is harder than I imagined it would be, to take them both out and the bad thing is that the shopping basket at the grocery store where we normally shop only has a place for one child to sit. They don't have any of the baskets where two children can sit. Also, it has been so cold outside and I have had this cold, so I really did not want to get out with them if I didn't have to. Once I get over this cold and it gets a little warmer out, I will tackle this and become efficient at it, or die trying. I refuse to be confined to my house for the next 2 years.

The boys are still sleeping very well and so are we, thankfully. Benjamin is so very close to walking and he gets so excited about trying, it is really cute. We cheer him on and he just loves it. He can now walk 3 or 4 steps on his own so he should be walking very soon. He is also starting to feed himself here and there. We are not trying to get him to do it anymore and it seems the more we don't care, the more he tries. He is also starting to get the pincer grip, so he is really coming along quickly developmentally, even though he still has some catching up to do.

I was re-reading some of the attachment disorder information last night and it kind of hit me how many things on this list that "normal, biological children" also do. For example, "aggression towards others"; what toddler have you ever known that did not, at times, show some aggression towards others. Since we have been having these wonderful meals delivered, we have also been able to discuss toddler behavior with many parents who have toddlers. They all say that their toddlers show aggression at times, even to the point of trying to hit their parents, if the toddler did not like something the parent might have done. A couple of other examples are "controlling, demanding and clingy"; I think it is probably normal for toddlers to be controlling and demanding and clingy at times and I have had this confirmed by other parents of toddlers. "Normal, biological" toddlers also throw temper tantrums, have major mood swings are frequently defiant and oppositional.

Now there are also a bunch of other behaviors on the list that you would not see in "normal, biological" toddlers, however we are not seeing any of those behaviors, yet anyway, thankfully. And I can understand that if you were seeing some of those behaviors, along with some of the ones I have mentioned above, that you would and should be concerned.

I guess where this is coming from is this: I really don't like being in this mode of having to look for all of these "abnormal" behaviors and always wondering "is that normal toddler behavior or a result of PI adoption". I also know that it is not unusual for behaviors to get blamed on adoption when they are not necessarily adoption related. My frustration is not knowing. It would be nice, once again, if someone could just give us a little manual and tell us what is adoption related behavior and what is just normal toddler behavior. I guess my "book", in this case, is prayer and total dependence on God. I need to pray and listen and have faith.

The good news is that, currently, all of the behaviors we have seen are behaviors that normal biological toddlers also have. The bad news is that it is really too early to know for sure and we have to be "on alert", for at least a year or year and a half probably. Sooner Start did come out and talked to us about the services they offer. They will be coming out to evaluate the boys at the beginning of March. They will come out two days in a row, so they can evaluate each child separately, which is good. I am glad they are waiting a month before they come. It will be interesting to see how much the children change in that month, how much they catch up, any new behaviors, etc. We will take it day-by-day, meet each challenge and enjoy each change.

Monday, February 05, 2007

February 5, 2007

Today was doctor day. The boys did great through the exam but then we went upstairs for the blood draw, which was not too bad really. The stick hurt but only for a few seconds and then it was just anger/frustration at being held down. They got them both on the first stick, which was wonderful (they have a really hard time getting my blood and frequently have to stick me several times and then end up taking it from my hand). Benjamin went first and I held him while they took his blood. My husband was out in the waiting room with Nicholas because we didn't want him to see what was going on. They had a TV on out there so he was very interested in that. Other than part of the super bowl, the kids have not seen any TV since they have been home. We do lots of music though. Then we traded kids and I held Nicholas while they took his blood. While we were doing this, my husband was with Benjamin, getting a chest xray. He has a hole in his heart that has probably about a 90% chance of healing on it's own but we have to have it checked out to see if it has healed yet or not. I'm not sure how long they wait for it to heal before they decide they need to fix it but we'll find that out.

After the blood draw, we went to another office for their immunizations and TB tests. They each got three shots in their legs and also the shot for the TB test. We have to go back in about a month for another three shots for Nick and one for Ben. After that, I think we go back 6 months later for another round. By the time they are two years old, they should be caught up. This was a bit harder for the little guys (and for me) than the blood draw. The TB test took longer than I would have liked, especially for Nick, but the shots in the legs are fast but painful. I could see them wince with pain and, of course, they screamed. But it was quick and, afterwards, they quit crying fairly quickly when I turned them towards me and hugged them. We used the same method with these shots as we did with the blood husband had one child with him waiting in the waiting room and I stayed with the child who was being tortured and tried my best to comfort him.

They were really little troopers and they were exhausted because they ended up missing their afternoon nap and had shots instead. Not a very good trade off. After we finished up with the shots, we took a quick stroll around the floor where my husband's office is (he is a doctor in this same practice) so his co-workers, who prayed so much for us, could meet our sons. It was nice and the boys were pretty friendly to everyone, even after everything they had been through.

After we left the doctor's office, we decided to get a bite to eat so we went to Luby's:). We like Luby's but the lines are usually really long on Sunday after church, which is usually when we think of going there. It was perfect because the line was really short, the food was great and there was plenty of food that the boys really liked. They enjoyed their meals and ate very well (they had also missed their snack time...we brought goldfish and cheerios but they are just not the same as their normal snack).

After dinner, we came home, the boys played for a little while and then they went off to bed. I took a ton of medicine, sat with my head over a heated mister thing and laid down as much as possible. I believe I have a sinus infection and have been nursing a horrendous head ache for a couple of days. Today it was much worse. I am now feeling better. The meds have kicked in.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

February 4, 2007 Part 3

So, each child has ended up with a bloody, swollen lip in the short amount of time they have been home with us. What's up with that. Is that a boy thing?

Today Nick was walking around the kitchen, happy as can be, and then he stubbed his toe on one of the high chairs and fell flat on his face. His forehead, between and just above his eyes, was red for a little while but, worst of all, his upper lip was busted open ( mostly on the inside) and bleeding quite a bit. Dr. Dad took a look at it, which did not make Nick happy at all, and tried to slow down the bleeding a bit. Turned out he was fine, although he did sport a fat lip for most of the day. It was looking much better this evening.

A few days ago, something similar happened to Ben, although it was his bottom lip that was busted and it was not quite as bad as Nick's. Ben also ended up with a cracked upper lip, from the dry heat I guess, although we do have a humidifier running in their room.

One of the funniest things we have seen so far: this evening, Nick was walking around the living room, saw his shadow and it scared him so badly he went running to daddy, half crying. He kept going back to see it again though and became less and less scared each time. It was pretty funny.

During nap time today, I heard one of the boys JUST starting to whine a little, over the baby monitor. I was waiting to see if he would go back to sleep or not. Just a minute later I heard "meow meow" over the baby monitor and could hear one of the boys jabbering. I went upstairs and sneaked into their bedroom through the other bedroom and the connecting Jack-n-Jill bath, so I could see what Dancer the cat was doing in their room. He was lying in the middle of the floor, looking at them in their cribs and meowing at them. They were both in their cribs, one standing and one sitting, watching him. Nick was sitting and kind of half crying/whining and I think he had been awakened by Dancer the cat. Ben was standing and fully enjoying the cat show. Hmmmm, I wonder how often the cat has been in there, hanging out with them and keeping them awake. That was the first time I had heard him on the baby monitor though.

Today, Nick said (or tried to say) bye bye, while waving, when dad left to go run errands. He also tried to say baby, although it sounded much the same as bye bye, which really sounds more like ba ba. Ben listens very intently when we try to teach him new words, although he does not try to say them much. He does wave bye bye and my husband and I both think he can probably say a lot more words than he lets on. I think he is a quieter child and maybe more of an introvert, whereas Nick is the opposite. That's my guess, based on what we have seen so far. The future will show if I am correct, God willing.

February 4, 2007 Part 2

The boys seem to gravitate towards each other when they are playing, if my husband and I are busy with something and not playing with or reading to them.

Dancer keeps a close eye out from the top of the chair. They sometimes move things around in such a way that Dancer would like to play too.

Yesterday evening, I was "holding" Nick in my arms because he had been hitting Ben. Nick does not like to be held against his will so he was crying. Dancer came over twice, jumped up on the chair next to Nick and was trying to touch his nose to Nick's face. I think Dancer was worried about Nick and did not like to hear him cry.

The boys get jealous of each other sometimes. Both my husband and I will be sitting in the living room and if one of the boys goes over to one of us, the other one will go too and they kind of try to push each other away. Also, it seems that if I tell them "no" about something, that is the thing they immediately want to do again and again. I have seen Nick do this when I am preparing them something to eat in the kitchen and can't pick him up. He will play with the wooden blinds, open drawers that he knows he should not open and hit his brother, all within 5 minutes,and usually while looking directly at me, to see if I am going to stop him.

This is Ben, looking at a book. They both seem to know what "book" is now and Nick has tried to say it. They love books and will bring them to us quite often for us to read them, although they don't always stick around for us to finish. When we first met them, we could tell they did not know the purpose of a book. They are really learning a lot quickly. When I show them an object and tell them the word for it several times, I can tell by the expression on their face that their little minds swirling it around and they are learning.

And here is Ben, rocking in the chair. This chair was mine and my brother's and sister's when we were little. They are twins and are only a year older than I am, so we were close enough in age to share it. Nick and Ben both like this little chair. Nick can get into it by himself and will sometimes stand up in it so I have to watch him. Ben needs help getting in and out, but not for long. He is coming right along on his walking and I know he will be walking without help soon.

February 4, 2007

This is Nicholas with our cat Dancer. I can't figure out why Dancer sticks around for this kind of torture but he does, at least once or twice a day. For some reason, he really likes Nicholas and Nicholas loves to bounce around on Dancer and pull his tail. Nick tried to bite Dancer's tail this morning. It is really funny to watch, although also a little painful, because I am always worried that he might hurt Dancer or that Dancer might lose his patience and try to scratch Nick. I have seen several babies bounce around on Dancer over the years though and I have yet to see him scratch one of them, so maybe I needn't worry about it so much.

Our other cat (Zoe), on the other hand, will not let them get any where near her (pictures of her are in another post, back in Nov or Dec, I think...around the time I first learned to post pics on the blog). She was trying to sleep in her basket in the kitchen the other day and Nick decided to try to pet her or, more likely, pound on her (I didn't see it) and she must have been somewhat unfriendly because he started crying. I could not find any scratches on him so she must not have been too mean to him. She is one who would do this though and we know that because she slapped our friend's daughter and left two tiny scratch/puncture marks on her arm. She too was bothering Zoe when she was trying to sleep in this same basket and Zoe let her know that she did not want to be bothered. The rest of the time our friend's little girl was staying here, she would always ask "is that Dancer or Zoe" before she would try to pet one of the cats because she knew Dancer was the friendly one and Zoe was definitely not.

Unfortunately, our two sons are just a bit young to know there is a difference between the two cats. I can tell them apart easily, even by their meows usually, but my husband still has trouble telling them apart sometimes so I'm sure the boys probably won't be able to for a while. We try to really watch them when Zoe is around and usually Zoe is really good about staying up where they can't reach her. Dancer, on the other hand, is really part dog and loves to be in the floor with them.

When I lived in Houston as a single person, I lived in a townhouse with a front courtyard that had an iron gate that would squeak when opened. Whenever anyone came in the gate, Dancer would immediately run to the kitchen growling and he would stand up on his hind legs and look out the kitchen window. So I have known for a long time now that he is an unusual cat. His behavior with the boys just confirms it again. I wonder how many of his nine lives he is going to use up with these little guys.

Friday, February 02, 2007

February 2, 2007

Wooohooo! I finally was able to get a wonderful night of sleep! Boy, can that make a huge difference in how one feels. I feel so much better today. Thank you Lord! I'm not sure what made the difference but we did finally get our humidifier going again and I know that helps a lot when it is so dry. It is also a great white noise maker, which I love.

We believe that the boys are just starting to realize (maybe) that the food just keeps coming around here. They are leaving more food on their plates, becoming pickier about what they will and won't eat and also not crying when they are finished.

We were feeding the baby oatmeal cereal in the mornings but a couple of days ago, we switch to regular oatmeal; the kind that can be fixed in the microwave very quickly. They LOVE it! They gobble it up and are not very interested in the fruit that is served with it. We noticed that the baby oatmeal cereal has more vitamins added so we just started adding vitamins to the regular oatmeal. The vitamins we add have more to offer than the ones that come in the baby oatmeal, so that's good too. We think that the regular oatmeal stays with them much longer than the baby oatmeal did. They are not nearly as hungry at morning snack time as they used to be.

Our boys are great sleepers and that is an answer to my prayers. For the past three days, we have been putting them down around 8:00 or 8:30 pm and they have slept until 8:00am. Wow. I think I might have mentioned this yesterday but I am so thankful about this that I thought I would mention it again. Normally they fall asleep very quickly. We have not established much of a night time routine yet, as they are not at a point where they would sit still and let you rock them and read a book. We just take them upstairs, while we are talking to them about "time for night night" or "time for nap time", we turn on the humidifier in their room and then put them in their beds. They usually cry for 1 to 3 minutes; N is then asleep and B is working on it. It takes B longer and he kind of whines himself to sleep a little but it usually does not take him very long. They are still taking two naps a day, which is surprising to me, since they are sleeping so long at night.

They play hard when they are awake. More and more, they will bring us books and want us to read to them. These are the little board books, with very few words per page. Frequently they do not stick around until we are finished with the 5 or 6 pages in a book. They are normally off to find another one. Nicholas can definitely say "kitty" and "kitty cat" and I think Benjamin can say it too. Nicholas is the type of kid who will repeat words a lot. He is quite the talker/babbler.

Benjamin babbles a lot during certain times of the day but a lot of the time he is more quiet. He is the type of child who will say a word and you just know you heard it, but then he does not repeat it and days later you start wondering if he really said it. My mom and sister were here the other day and B was playing with this little zoo-train thing that says "All Aboard!". All three of us looked at each other in surprise because it sure sounded like Ben said "all aboard" just after the zoo-train said it. It was funny. I have yet to hear him say it again though. I think I have heard him say kitty and mama too. I know I have heard Nick say those words and I think he has also tried to say book. I think Ben might be one of those kids who does not talk much at first and then one day he just starts talking in sentences. We'll see.

It's fun to try to teach them words though. They will watch your mouth very closely, sitting there with their mouth open, and I can see their tongue start to move a little every once in a while, as if they are trying to figure out how to move it just right to make the word.

Ben is feeling better each day, although we are still giving him some cold medicine to help with his symptoms of runny nose and congestion. The area just under his poor little nose was getting sore from so much wiping so we started putting some antibiotic cream on it, which help it quickly. It looked much better today. I have clipped finger nails on both boys and they were pretty good about sitting still for me.

B is still being pretty good about not knocking things off of his highchair tray. He is not being good about not trying to hit us or himself in the face or trying to hit anything else that might be nearby, when he is mad. Basically, anytime we tell him no about something, he loses his temper and throws a little temper tantrum, which includes hitting whoever or whatever is nearby, including himself. Yesterday, we decided to try holding time with him for this. Nick also throws temper tantrums, although he does not try to hit anyone. He used to throw himself back but after hitting his head on the hardwood floors a couple of times, he has stopped doing that. Now he will gently lay his head down on the floor and then throw his little fit. Sometimes it is kind of funny but then his high pitch cry/whine that goes with it is very loud, normally not accompanied by tears, and becomes annoying quickly. So we have decided to try holding time for both of the boys for the fit-throwing behavior.

We have already had the chance to try this with B a couple of times and I have a feeling it might be very effective with him. We have not really had a chance to try it yet with N, which I guess is a good thing because that means we have not seen any fits today with him.

We gave them their baths last night. They both absolutely love the bath and have ever since we have had them with us. They love playing in the bathtub. Nick gets cold very quickly so we bought a little space heater to run in the bathroom before and during their baths. We tried it last night.  The dad went upstairs beforehand and turned it on so the room would be toasty warm when it was time for bath. By the time we went up for baths, it had blown a fuse and was no longer running. The bathroom was normal temperature, not toasty warm. My husband tried to get it going again but it would no longer work, so he is taking it back to the stores today.

Tonight we will have dinner delivered to us. Our Bible study class from church delivers meals to families with new babies every other night for two weeks, which is such a blessing. Night before last, we had this enchilada casserole which was absolutely delicious. I think I might come away with some great recipes from this too, an added bonus!

Today I am feeling much more positive about things. A good night of sleep makes all the difference in the world. I am feeling like we are really getting the hang of this. Last night, after the boys were asleep, my husband and I had a discussion about discipline. It is so hard to be consistent with just yourself, much less between the two of you. We are trying very hard to do this but it is not easy. I am happy that we have a close relationship, can discuss things like this and work together as a team to try to do our best. We usually agree on the approach we want to take also, which is nice.

He is such a good person and I admire him a lot. He knows I have not been sleeping very well. He always wakes up pretty early so, for the past week or so when he gets up, he takes the baby monitor from our room and puts it on his belt. Then he goes to the kitchen and cleans up, putting away the clean dishes from the dishwasher and washing any leftover dishes in the sink. It has been so wonderful having him here to share the load. I will miss him a lot when he goes back to work. It is also good because he now has an appreciation for how much work it takes to care for the children. He understands how time consuming and tiring it can be sometimes. This is a good thing because he won't come home from work, wondering what I did all day and why the floor is not clean, or something like that. Actually, he never notices when the floor is dirty or clean or when the furniture is dusted or not or the bathrooms are clean or not. It is really nice and I wish I could be a little more like that.

Enough rambling for today. Thank you all for your encouraging words of support. I appreciate the feedback and various ideas that you provided.