Tuesday, May 29, 2007

May 29, 2007

On and off, on and off the step. Ben is still working on the most efficient way to do this. 

The only issue is that they both want to play with the switch at the same time and then someone ends up falling off of the first step and crying a bit.

And this is not necessarily the most efficient way to do it....still learning.

Nick will typically step up while holding on to the white rails on the right.

On and off, on and off go the lights.

Look at me mom! Look what I can do!

And then I wipe my hands all over the wall. For some reason, he likes the feel of the wall, so he rubs his hands around on it.

Aren't I cute??

Ben, what does a monkey say? Ooo ooo ooo ooo! They know lots of animal sounds now. They also have learned how to put almost every shape into the more complex shape sorter that we have. It has ten different shapes, some are very similar and some only fit in one direction so it has been a bit of a challenge for them. I am amazed at how quickly they have learned it though. They love to do it again and again. Their puzzle skills should start improving soon, which is great because I am tired of the emptying-the-puzzle stage.

And, back to the subject of eating. This evening we were having baked salmon and broccoli and the boys could not get enough of the broccoli. When Nick saw that dad was getting more from the pan, he signed for more, very urgently. I was spooning it out of the pan and he kept asking for more the entire time until we ran out. And this was after he had already asked for seconds of the salmon. Ben asked for seconds also. It was pretty funny. I told my husband I would have liked to get that on video but I didn't want my food to get cold....I mean colder.

My turn!

And now, I will pose for pictures!

Our little Nick is definitely a people person. He loves hanging out with people and is not as likely as Ben to go play by himself and keep himself entertained. He is also a little flirt, always waving and smiling at people when we are out and about. He would get upset if a stranger wanted to hold him but he is very happy to smile and wave and put on a little cute performance for them from a distance.

And he never sits still for a minute. Busy is his middle name. I predict he will have a great sense of humor and will love to laugh (he already does). He also may be a little less likely to want to dig into his studies:). On the other hand, we think Ben is just the opposite. He enjoys hanging out with us for a while but also likes time to play on his own. If we have been out and around people for a while, such as at my mom or sister's house, when we get home Ben will go play by himself for a while. Ben loves to sit and look at books by himself and wants to be read to A LOT. Nick may let you read a couple of pages but will start turning pages too fast or will take off with the book. It is too funny how different they are.

He is so quick, it is a challenge to get good pics of him. He runs everywhere he goes. Ben has recently started running also, so they are keeping me very busy these days.

I love watching them learn new things and they are such quick learners. They are a lot of fun.

Friday, May 25, 2007

May 25, 2007

So far I have found very few foods the boys don't like. I have not found any veggie that they don't like. Some favorites are green beans, peas, sugar snap peas, broccoli (they can't get enough of this!), sweet potatoes, potatoes and corn. They love their veggies soooo much that I frequently have to hold back the veggies until they are almost done with their protein dish, otherwise they only want to eat their veggie. They would rather eat veggies than PB&J sandwiches. Unfortunately, I am somewhat of a picky eater so that limits us, although I do serve the boys several things that I don't care for and that they love, such as tuna fish sandwiches.

The only fruit I have found that they didn't care for that much was pears. They especially love apples, bananas, grapes (peeled and cut in half) and strawberries. They are normally very good eaters, although they both have times when they don't eat much and I just shrug and know that they will eat when they are hungry. They normally make up for it at the next meal. There have been several times when I thought they didn't care for something I served and then they ate it up at a later meal. Sometimes, they are just not that hungry, but most times they are and they eat very well. They have so many meals and snacks (and they continue to gain weight) so I know they are getting enough to eat. I fixed pork chops the other night and they couldn't get enough of them. They also love a couple of my chicken casseroles, chicken pot pies, cheese pizza, turkey and cheese sandwiches (heated) and egg salad sandwiches (heated with melted cheese on top). My husband and I really like salmon and normally eat it at least once a week and the boys love it too. They also love mac & cheese and pasta with chicken.

So far, I have really not found anything that they just really would not eat.  These are some of their favorites. I am always looking for other ideas to introduce so, if you have any great recipes, please send them to me.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

May 23, 2007

Something that is amusing is that our boys call most women in pictures "momma". They will point to a picture of my mom or my sister and say "momma". When I touch myself and say "momma", they will touch themselves the same way and say "momma". This is actually very cute. When my husband says "take this to momma" or "wave to momma", they will take the correct action. When we are looking at the zoo book and I point to the llama and say "llama", they both say "momma". They usually say it several times in a very cute voice and it always brings a smile to my face.

They have so many words now that I have lost track of them. They do a ton of repeating, all day long, but are less likely to actually use a word to get what they want. One day, when we were having our morning snack, I was asking if they wanted anything else. Nick said "nana", which I took to mean he wanted a banana. I asked if he wanted a banana and they both started repeating "nana" a couple of times and reaching towards the bananas. So I got a banana and we all ate it together.

They currently ask for what they want by pointing and/or grunting or reaching towards what they want and Nick will sign for "more" also. Ben was "pointing" to certain foods in his dish, with his nose of all things, when he wanted to eat that particular food.  He would, over and over again, almost put his nose into his food, blocking his entire plate with his head to point to the food he wanted to eat next. Very funny little boy.

They both know the majority of the parts of their body now. It is really amazing how quickly they learn things. A couple of days ago, I showed Nick how to pull the ball-shaped shape sorter apart and shake it to make the shapes fall out. This morning I saw him doing it by himself and I was really surprised that he remembered how and that he was strong enough and coordinated enough to do it.

I am sure that if Sooner Start were to test them now, they would not qualify for services anymore. From everything I have read, it seems clear to me they are very on track for their ages in all areas of development now, which is wonderful and amazing, especially for Ben who was so far behind only 5 months ago.

My brother-in-law was here visiting last week. It was the first time he had met the boys. He was amazed at how well they are doing and commented that, if he had not known their history, he would never have suspected that they had not been with us since birth. They just act like totally normal, American toddlers. It is a beautiful and amazing thing.

We went to my sister's house yesterday and spent the day visiting with her, my mom and my niece and nephew. The boys had a great time and they really loved rolling around on the floor with my nephew. He is just finishing seventh grade and he is really good with them and they both just love him to death. It is really cute to watch. The neat thing was what my nephew told my sister after the last time we visited. When he was little, like our little guys, he always loved playing with his older, male cousin. He couldn't wait for his cousin to arrive at our family events and would hang on him and rough-house with him the whole time. My nephew told my sister that he now gets to be to our boys what his cousin was to him when he was little. It was really sweet.

Some cute pics:

Nick with his "buddy". We bought this little giraffe at a grocery store in Volgograd. He sleeps with it every night and at nap time. It is the perfect size for him. Sometimes Ben will walk around with his thumb in his mouth while holding Nick's little buddy. It is funny because Ben is not a thumb sucker at all and does not really care about a buddy or lovey or anything else. I bought him a little buddy, a small stuffed kitty that looks a lot like this giraffe actually (same color and just a little smaller). We hand it to him every night when he goes "night night" and he promptly smiles and throws it out of his crib, no matter how many times we pick it up and give it back to him.

Ben and Nick playing in the library room of our house. We had work men taking out two large windows in our living room so I had to move all of the toys into another room and we camped out there for the day.

I taught Nick how to climb onto the rocking horse by himself. He loves to rock it as high as he can, surprise surprise. Ben is a bit more cautious on it. Nick has also learned how to climb up on the couch by himself now. Fun times have begun!

I thought it was funny how Nick put his legs up around the horses neck. I think he is just a little too short for them to reach downwards.

Do you think he enjoys himself??

After wearing my ball cap at the zoo the other day, Nick now has this thing for caps.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

May 19, 2007

The boys got into a cat fight with Zoe, our unfriendly-to-children cat. I have warned them so many times to leave her alone and have punished them for tormenting her so many times but it just does not seem to stop them. Every chance they get, if she is around, they will run towards her yelling and waving a toy or trying to hit her with their toy or their hands.

So yesterday evening, we were looking out of the living room window at a baby rabbit that was sitting on the patio in the side yard. The cats had seen it first so they were sitting nearby also. Zoe got scared when the boys approached so she jumped in a box that was sitting nearby...a box that we had left out because the boys had been playing with it. They were not paying any attention to her at first because they were looking at the baby rabbit. But then, they shifted attention and noticed her in the box and Nick started trying to hit her. I can't remember if he had his lovey or was just trying to hit her with his hands but he was yelling and trying to hit her. And before I could stop it, she was fighting back and scratched him on the face. And then, just as Nick started crying, Ben started trying to hit her too and she scratched him on the arm. I couldn't believe it. I was sitting right nearby but it just happened so fast. The cat was meowing/crying too, very upset. I'm sure she felt trapped and scared. And both boys were now crying and I was not sure where they had been scratched or how bad it was. Thankfully my husband was home so he picked up Ben and I had picked up Nick and we checked them out.

Nick has a scratch from the side/tip of his nose down across the area above his upper lip, across his lip and onto his cheek. He also has a second scratch a little higher on the same cheek. We are so fortunate that she did not get his eye.

Ben has two or three scratches on the top of his forearm, near the elbow.

The cat is fine:). She defended herself quite nicely.

The boys quit crying pretty quickly and acted as if nothing had happened....even going so far as to try going after her again a little later. Their scratches actually look not-so-bad today. You can barely see the ones on N's face now, which is good. They were pretty light, although his lip did bleed a little. One scratch on B's arm is a bit more noticeable but the rest are very light.

So, any tips on teaching the boys they are not allowed to torment this cat? I am just amazed that they didn't learn from getting scratched. Ben has been scratched once before by this cat, as she was laying on the back of a chair and he was behind the chair, trying to hit her with a toy. They just don't seem to learn.

When I was a kid, we always had a cat, from the time I was just a little bitty thing. I have a ton of pictures of me, as a child, holding a kitten or a cat. Anyway, I can remember getting scratched by the cats at my grandmother's house because they were wild and I couldn't resist catching them and trying to tame them, especially the kittens. But I was obviously older than our little guys.

I know not everyone will agree with this but I don't blame the cat. I think it is natural for her to defend herself if she is being attacked. To me, this is much like learning not to touch a hot stove. You don't blame the stove. If you get burnt, you learn some respect for the hot stove and you are much more careful the next time. But the problem, of course, is that they are not learning any respect for the scratching cat. Maybe part of the issue is that I am not being consistent enough with disciplining for this. I may just have to really crack down on it.

In other news, Nick has now learned how to climb up on the large leather ottoman that is our "coffee table" of sorts. He was so pleased with himself and Ben immediately started trying to get up there, when he saw that his brother could get up there. I knew he would learn this soon because I had seen him almost make it and he was pretty determined. I know that he will very soon be able to get on the couch too and they can now reach pretty much everything on the end tables, although they do know what is off limits. They still test on this at times so I have to keep an eye on them.

Yesterday I had to have two moles removed; one from my shoulder and one from my leg. What a pain, literally. The boys went with me and they really did pretty well. Nick got a little upset when I laid down on the table and they made the table go up high. He started crying and they tried handing him a book and his snack cup but he just handed it back and kept crying. He stopped pretty soon though and both boys were quite interested in watching what was going on. I have a few stitches where the one on my leg was but they cauterized the other one. I'm glad it is over. I have lost count of how many moles I have had removed over the years. Stay out of the sun when you can and use your sunscreen when you can't!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

May 17, 2007 Part 2

Well, yesterday afternoon I took the boys to the zoo and we had a ball. What a fun afternoon. We saw a lot of animals but here are the highlights of the day:

First stop was the elephant exhibit and I was at first disappointed because I didn't see any at all. Then a lady told me you had to go inside the "elephant museum" building to see them. I had not realized this so we went inside and, WOW, they were right there in front of us, nose to nose, on the other side of a huge plate glass window. The boys loved it. Two huge elephants were eating hay right in front of us.

The next really neat thing was the lion exhibit. When we first walked up, the female lion was standing just inside of the door to their cave. You can't see them when they are in their cave but she was in the doorway and looking very regal. She stood there looking out for a couple of seconds and we waited (I was meowing like a cat to try to get her to come out. I'm pretty good at imitating our cats. I think it worked:).

She came out and sauntered over to the watering hole to get a drink and then she came straight towards us, to the edge of their area next to where the pit starts, and laid down. At some point the large, male lion came to the cave door and stood there for a couple of minutes. I meowed again but he didn't come out. He went back inside the cave but then, a few seconds later, we heard him roar really loudly. I roared back at him pretty loudly and he roared again. We did this quite a few times and Nick joined in with roaring with me a few times too. Finally I stopped and the lion kept going a few more times and then stopped. His roars echoed within the cave so we could hear it really well. It was great! I think this is the first time I had actually heard a lion roar in real life. It was magnificent. And it's really neat because I had been pointing out a lion to the boys in one of their books and asking them what a lion says and then I would roar. Now they really get it.

Then, we went to see the bears. There was this huge grizzly bear and he was playing with this large red ball. He put it above his head and let it roll down his back. Then he swatted it into his big pool of water and jumped in after it. It was so cute and funny. Eventually he swatted it out of the water and tried to get it but it went over the edge, into the pit and he lost it. He took off running towards his cave and went inside. He came back out and walked around a little, looking for something else to play with. Watching him play and run was really quite something. He was so huge. Both boys were entranced.

The petting zoo was closed for some reason but we still saw the sheep and goats and one of the sheep came over to the fence to visit us. We saw a beautiful peacock, which was making these wonderful calls that we mimicked and we saw kangaroos and many other interesting animals, including an amazing, up close view of the rhinos that was pretty awesome. The sea lions were sleeping, basking in the sun on a rock. Nick kept waving at them and saying "night night". Adorable.

Our last stop was to see the chimps, which was really neat too. There were three of them sitting together and one mama had a three month old baby that she was holding. It was really cute. At one point, these three came right up to the glass. There was a lot of paper and stuff in the exhibit because they had celebrated a birthday and left the stuff in there for them to play with. One of them had picked up a streamer and carried it with him to the window. He rolled up a piece of it and was chewing on it. He rolled up another piece and stuffed it in his nose and then he blew it out. It was quite funny. They had these fake rocks on our side of the glass, allowing the kids to climb higher and closer to the glass and all three of these chimps and the baby were right on the other side, within a few inches of the glass. It was really great.

I have been to a lot of nice zoos but this had to be the most up close and personal zoo visit I have ever had. We really had a lot of fun and I was like a little kid, running while pushing the stroller from exhibit to exhibit and holding the kids up so they could see really well. I'm not sure who enjoyed it more, me or them!

May 17, 2007

Hello? Hello? The "ball" phone.

Everything is a phone these days, which is interesting because I very seldom talk on the phone when they are awake and, when I do, they are normally short conversations.

Hello?? Hello?? The "block" phone.

Hello?? Hello?? The "ball" phone again. They are very amusing at times:).

Seeing the pretend play is great though. This is one of those milestones that we were looking for. They like to push their trucks around, making truck noises too.

The different faces of Nick:

Enjoying his thumb and lovey.

Pitching a fit. He has this down to a science and I am learning that ignoring him can end them very quickly, sometimes. Yesterday he was throwing a fit about something in the kitchen. I was doing something and happened to move where I could not see him. Then I noticed that he got up and moved over to where I could see him again, sat down and started throwing his fit again. Then I moved into the living room and, again, could not see him. He moved into the living room where I could see him again and kept going. It was really funny. But then I asked him if he wanted to sit in the "chair". He shook his head no and stopped the fit. This seems to be pretty effective, unless he is just too tired. The funny thing is when he starts to throw a fit and he sits down on the hardwood floor and then lays down very carefully before really starting to throw his fit. He learned very quickly that it hurts to hit your head on the floor.

Thankfully, his fits normally don't last long and he is usually more like this. He is a funny kid with a great sense of humor. He cracks both me and Ben up at times.

Here is a funny face from Ben, while playing with the pig and the barn.

I have a hard time getting really good pictures of Ben, which is frustrating because he has such a beautiful, contagious smile. This one is pretty good but I am still hoping to catch the really good one at some point. He is such a sweet boy and usually pretty laid back but, man, he does have a temper at times. He loves loves loves to read and will get upset if he brings a book to you and you don't pick him up and read it to him immediately. There are times when I am working in the kitchen and I see him sitting and looking at the books, turning pages and talking to himself. He will do this for quite a while and it is really cute.

It is so interesting to see their little personalities develop and emerge. I love it. You just never know what surprise you are in for each day. Life is definitely an adventure with these two little guys.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

May 10, 2007

We have had a lot of rain lately and have been house-bound quite a bit so I created a "tent" for them to play in.

They loved it. They pushed and pulled toys through the tent/tunnel and went around and around. It was high enough that they could walk through it. I crawled through it a few times too and they thought that was fun.

We had a fun time. We'll do it again on another rainy day.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

May 9, 2007

We have had a busy month and the boys continue to change soooo much. We are amazed. They both continue to do very well with their sleeping, eating and attaching. So far, we have no issues at all.

We took them for their 18 month check up this week, although Nick is closer to 17 months old and Ben recently turned 19 months old.

Here is a picture of Nick from today.

And here is a picture of Ben from today.

They have grown so much that they are barely fitting into their 18 month sized one-piece outfits now. The funny thing is they are still wearing a couple of pairs of shorts that are 9 month size, although not for much longer. They are wearing shirts that are 18 months and some of those are getting to be a bit small also. They are still in size 3 diapers but I think they will outgrow those soon.

They are very into giving kisses lately. It's very cute and sweet and it warms our hearts. When we put them to bed the other night, we were saying "night night" to them and Nick said "nii nii" back to us several times. It was so sweet.

One afternoon, Ben wanted me to pick him up. I was doing something in the kitchen and could not pick him up right away so he sat down and started crying. Nick came in, looked at me, then at Ben, wondering why Ben was crying. He walked over and sat down on the floor right next to Ben. He had brought a toy pig and a toy sheep with him and he started bouncing the toy pig across the floor in front of Ben. Then he sat it down in front of Ben. By this time, Ben had stopped crying and he picked up the toy pig and started bouncing it around like Nick had done. Then, Nick leaned over and gave Ben a kiss. It was just so cute. I really wish we had been able to record that. They really are close now and it is obvious they care about each other so much.

They have each grown over 2 inches in 3 months, although I think Nick has grown a little more than Ben. Ben has put on more weight than Nick but they are both now weighing around 25 pounds, Ben a little more than 25 and Nick a little less. Ben is really right on track and looking really good for his height, weight and head on the growth charts.

These are my favorite PJ's. I think they look so cute in them.

Nick was the smaller of the two, when we adopted them, and is now in the 25th percentile for weight and 50th for height, which is incredible, since he was around the 3rd percentile for both when we adopted him.

The other thing we have had checked is the mole on B's right cheek, which has been growing quite a bit since he has been home. We noticed it when we first met him but, it was so small and the coloring was such that it really looked like a little bruise at that time; that's what we thought it was originally. It is still growing so we will be taking him to a plastic surgeon to discuss options for having it removed, hopefully before it gets too much larger.

This set of pictures was from the Sunday that we had our "baby" dedication at church.

They understand most of what we say to them these days and they repeat so many words I have lost count of them all. One of yesterday's new words was "brother". Most of them are words that only a parent would understand right now though.