This coming Sunday, two days from now, will be two months since we picked up our sons from the orphanage in Volgograd Russia (1/18/07). At that time, Nicholas was 14 months old and Benjamin was 15.5 months old. They are now approximately 16 months and 17.5 months old, respectively. It is amazing at how much they have changed in just two months.
Here is Ben on our first visit to Volgograd in November of 2006. He was 13.5 months old in this picture.
And here is a picture of Nick during our first visit to Volgograd in November of 2006. He was 12 months old in this picture.
Here they are in the hotel room in Volgograd on 1/18/2007. This is the day we really became a family, although we legally became a family the day before in court.
In this picture, Ben was 15.5 months old and Nick was 14 months old.
Here is a picture of Ben today, almost two months later. This is the best picture I could get of him today but, I'm telling you, this kid has one of the most charming smiles you will ever see. Everyone comments on it, in addition to his big, beautiful, brown eyes. He has a beautiful smile and he is a beautiful child.
Two months ago, he would hardly play with a toy and would be more likely to throw it down or drop it quickly if you handed him something. He immediately pushed any food that was placed on his highchair tray to the floor and could not feed himself at all. In fact, he never, ever brought anything to his mouth to chew on, except for his finger sometimes. Anytime he was frustrated or angry about something, he would hit himself and sometimes he would try to hit us. He could crawl but he could not walk. He could pull up but was not very good at cruising and didn't show much interest in it. When he did pull up, he did not stand for very long. He did not babble a whole lot and could not say any words.
He can now feed himself finger food very well and he also chews on toys. He hardly ever throws anything in the floor when he is eating in his highchair and he never hits anyone anymore, including himself. He is now walking pretty well and spends a good part of his waking hours walking all around the house. He has become more assertive and he no longer lets Nick take away his toys. He now babbles all the time and he says momma, dada, kitty, all done and he tries to say many other words. He is still behind with his communication but catching up quickly.
And here is an up to date picture of Nick. He has an adorable smile too...maybe a bit impish...he is a little imp. He is also a beautiful child...do you think I might be just a bit biased?
Two months ago, Nick was pretty much on track developmentally and was actually ahead in some areas. He is still pretty much on track developmentally but also behind with his receptive communication skills. His latest interest is talking on the phone. He was holding a block to his ear the other day and saying something that sounded much like "hello". When the phone rings he also says something that sounds much like "hello". If I am busy and don't answer the phone, they both look at me expectantly, like I should be answering it. They both love to listen as someone talks to them over the phone, especially when daddy calls. Nick is also now starting to run a little bit and loves climbing all over the furniture. He can say quite a few words and tries to say many more that are hard to recognize. He understands so much more of what we say as each week goes by, it is amazing. He knows where we keep the drinks and snacks and will point to the fridge or cabinet when he wants something.
They are both pretty smart little guys and we are enjoying this time of learning about their developing personalities. I was looking at some of the old pictures and it is amazing at how much they have filled out since they have been home. Their faces were so much thinner in the earlier pictures and I can really tell a difference in their little thighs. They have a bit of meat there now, almost a little bit of a chub....much more normal looking. Two months ago they were skin and bone.
They are interacting with each more and more each day and it is obvious they enjoy being with each other. They follow each other around and mimic each other a lot.
Sometimes they are pretty good about sharing and they enjoy playing together or near each other.
...sometimes not:). Actually, times like this are pretty rare, for now anyway. This type of behavior is more likely to happen when they are playing very close to each other and they accidentally fall into or onto each other and/or they are wanting to play with the same toy. They normally stop before I have to intervene but sometimes I have to firmly tell them to stop. Nick tends to enjoy sitting on or rolling on top of Ben and Ben doesn't care for that too much.
They both love pushing everything around, including cups that are turned upside down or anything that is not suppose to be pushed and may ruin the wood floors. We try to keep them interested in pushing around the things that are made to be pushed around.
They keep me very busy but I love it. Nick woke up an hour before Ben did yesterday and so it was just the two of us for a little while. This happens at times and I relish the individual time with each of them when it does, although it seems so quiet when one is awake and the other is still sleeping and the one who is awake seems a little lost without his brother around. They will each come to me at different times during play time and want to be held and cuddled. It is obvious they really enjoy it and they seek it out often. They both know how to "give mommy a kiss" and also "give mommy a hug" now and it simply warms my heart. They think it is so funny. They are so sweet and cute and hugable!
They are both still eating well, although Nick is a bit pickier than Ben and Ben definitely eats more. They are both still sleeping well, although I think they really might be ready to go to one nap soon. I am very torn on this. On days when they only have one nap, they are so cranky. There are some days when they sleep very well during both of their naps but then there are other days when Ben does not...like today. I really think that Nick needs a bit more sleep than Ben does right now but, selfishly, I really want to keep them on the same schedule. When they don't get enough sleep, they tend to misbehave more, which none of us enjoys. At night, they both sleep very well. We have never had to go to them at night, other than one night. I think it was the second night they were home and N woke up screaming that scared cry around 10:00pm or 10:30pm. I went to him that night but we have never had to go to them other than that. Yes, this is a miracle and we are very blessed with good sleepers, for now.
I have been trying to think of any behaviors they display that might be indicative of orphanage behavior or results of having been in an orphanage for the first year of their lives and I honestly can't think of anything right now. Maybe I am blind to it because I am so close to them but they really seem to behave as any biological child would, as far as I can tell. They do still have some catching up to do, Ben with some developmental milestones and both of them with receptive communication. I am not concerned about either of them catching up though. They are obviously bright children and I know they will catch up with time.
We are so very very blessed. I believe these two little guys are both miracles and blessings from God. That they have done so very well with this major transition in their short lives is just a miracle. I thank God for them and for how well they are adjusting to us and also us to them. I think my husband and I both have adjusted pretty well. It will be interesting to see how we are doing a year from now, when the newness of our new family has worn off. Right now, we both relish the time we spend with them and are so excited to see them when we are away from them for any length of time. I do need breaks and I look forward to nap times and also to a short period of rest after dinner, before we put the boys to bed and my husband is wonderful about giving me a break and he enjoys his time with the boys.
As I have mentioned before, my husband and I have only been married for a little over two years. We were each single for many years before we met each other and fell in love. We have a wonderful marriage for many reasons. The main reason is that we both are of the same faith and place the same value on having God at the center of our marriage. We are also a lot alike and enjoy a lot of the same things. We have the same goals in life and share the same values and morals. We are best friends and we are pretty good about discussing our differences without putting each other down or yelling. We had pre-marital counseling, which really helped a lot too. But, another thing is that because we were single for so long, we really appreciate having each other.
I think there are a lot of similarities in waiting so long to have children. I hope and pray that we never forget how much we wanted to find the right person to marry and I hope and pray that we never forget how much we ached for children. I don't think we ever will forget. God will help us to always remember.