Saturday, October 24, 2009

Happy 5th Birthday Claire Bear!

We had a big bash for Claire's 5th birthday. It was a lot of fun and I didn't have to do too much work for it. Everyone seemed to have a great time at the place we had her party. She is growing up so fast!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Some firsts for Nicholas

In the past couple of weeks I have been taking Nicholas 'out' more since I was stir crazy when the girls were sick. We have been to Costco (he LOVED all the samples), the gym childcare (with Claire), big grocery stores, our new Target and he does really great. We did take him to church where he did okay, but Sunday School was hard he didn't want to leave the classroom when it was time to go out and play. I was with him the entire time during Sunday School.

Monday, October 19, 2009


We didn't have to worry much about Claire over the summer, but I think she just wasn't old enough to understand what was going on in our family. More recently we have had more challenges, although I do have to confess I have found Claire to be more of a challenge to parent in general.

Nicholas and Claire are 12 months apart in age but will be 2 years apart in school as long as we are able to 'hold back' Nicholas 1 year from Kindergarten. Many times, they get along well, usually it is to 'gang' up on us! Many times, they do not get along well and fight over wanting to play with the same toys (like building toys). It's actually been helpful though in facilitating lessons in sharing and taking turns with toys. She has been helpful in helping me to teach Nicholas how to play a game. So far those games include Elefun and Dora Bingo.

Claire started Kindergarten this year and will be turning 5 on October 24th. We are planning a big party for her at a place with animals, pony rides, a bounce house and a mini train. I felt it would be better for Nicholas not to have a party at our house so soon. She still loves singing and she continues to take a ballet class after school like her sister. She talks a lot and asks tons of questions...I think it's payback, I remember asking lots of questions when I was young.

She loves Kindergarten and is doing well. She is a good reader and learning more math. She is doing well socially, I was so amazed the first week of school when she came home talking about all her new friends. She had a much harder time in preschool socially.

About a week after we were home, Claire flat out told me she didn't want Nicholas in our family because he was too crazy and didn't speak English. I have seen, however, how her love has grown for Nicholas and she loves to give him hugs and kisses at night. We definitely have some sibling rivalry to contend with, but we had that anyway. I suppose that now she is the 'middle child', she is trying to find her place in the family.

In November, Claire will be having surgery to remove her tonsils and adenoids. I didn't realize how HUGE they were until I looked in her mouth this summer. She snores horribly and I think it affects her sleep. It's a little scary, but I'm looking forward to a more restful Claire. We are proud of Claire and what a good big sister she has been, we are proud of Olivia, too, of course.


I've realized I've focused a lot recently on Nicholas...of course, he is the newest member of our family. I feel like I should tell you more about our other 2 and how they are adjusting. While we did have some challenges with Olivia this summer during our trips to Kazakhstan, she is adjusting very well, she is a wonderful big sister! She is patient and loving with her brother. I was reminded this the other night when she hugged him goodnight and told him 'I love you so much!'

She is 7 years old and in 2nd grade. She was actually chosen to be in a 1st/2nd combo class this year...don't ask, it's a California thing! So far, it seems to be a wonderful class for her this year in the midst of all the changes in our family. Her teacher is wonderful and seems to be very nurturing towards all the students. Academically she is making mostly A's on her tests and she has been reading a ton of books. She proudly told me the other day that she read the most AR books of anyone in her class!

Although most of her friends are in different classes, she continues to be a social butterfly. I just wish she could have more play dates with her friends, but like everyone else, we attempt to juggle schoolwork for 2 kids, after school activities, church activities, housework, etc.

An exciting event in her life is the holiday Nutcracker performed with the local symphony. She auditioned and was chosen again to be one of the coveted bonbons, there are only 4 per cast. She will perform in the Saturday evening show and Sunday afternoon show in mid-December. The Nutcracker is the whole reason behind her taking ballet classes. She was 4 1/2 the first time I took her and she decided she wanted to be in the Nutcracker. I told her she would have to take ballet classes and practice. As of yet, she doesn't have the flexibility of a ballet dancer, but she has the heart of one and will do her best.

Most of the time Olivia and Nicholas get along very well, in fact, Olivia will give in to him more often than not and she does enjoy trying to teach him new words.

Monday, October 12, 2009

One Month Ago

We arrived in Los Angeles with Nicholas Roman. It is so unbelievable that was only a month ago. As you know, the beginning was a bit rocky, but mostly everything is going well. When everything is going smoothly and everyone's needs are met, it is the BEST!

Nicholas continues to amaze me. He has grown 1 1/2 inches since arriving here, isn't that incredible?! I wondered why his new long sleeved 3T shirts appeared too short for his arms! He talks a lot, but it's a mix of Russian, Kazak and English. I sure wish I knew some of the things he was saying and what he is thinking in his little head. He is a wonderful boy, he is affectionate with us, sometimes goofy, sometimes mischievous and sometimes hard-headed. And he is just so cute!

He likes to watch some television and is starting to learn he is not the only one who wants to watch television. He likes to build with blocks (or have someone build an airplane for him), play with Little People, pretend tool set, train set, Dora castle (he just likes opening up all the secret spots), play with cars, read before bed, play in the bath (he spends almost an hour in the bath!), he loves to swim...if only he could do it all year :p, play at the park, dig in the backyard, go to the store, look at the fish in the aquariums at the radiologist and we are still learning things he likes. He loves airplanes, helicopters and cars. Anytime he hears what sounds like an airplane, he dashes to the window to look for it.

Sometimes it is simply exhausting, especially last week when the girls were sick and all 3 were at home...gasp! It really is a lot of work to help Nicholas to learn to play. He can't just play a game with the girls, he has to be taught there are rules to follow and he has to take turns. So far, the only successful games he has played were Elefun and Dora Bingo. Otherwise, if the kids are pretending together they get along pretty well. If they are playing with toys, like the trains or blocks, they inevitably get into arguments. He can be very demanding of myself and my time and this can also be exhausting. Maybe this is jealousy or fear that is playing out. Jealous of the time I spend with the girls or fear that I will leave him, I'm not sure. I hope this gets better with time.

He eats really well, all healthy foods except for occasional chocolate and ice cream. He eats meat, chicken, cucumber, tomato, potato, corn on the cob, rice, seaweed/nori, hot dog, carrot, pizza, yogurt, grapes, apple, banana, strawberry, but does not care too much for bread, crackers, goldfish, cookies (except oreos). The specialist we met did however mention he ate fast and stuffed his mouth so we have also been working on encouraging him to slow down and take small bites. This is going really well, in fact, he sometimes now gets distracted. I also think his body is starting to realize when he has eaten enough food. In the beginning I was feeding him about every 2 hours...3 main meals with snacks in between. I always made sure I had a snack for him. Lately he has shown less interest in the snacks so I haven't offered snacks as much, but there is always something in a cup on the table...cereal, or nuts or some of his leftover breakfast. He even turned down apple today and he used to always ask for an apple...every day!

He sleeps really well at night but we continue to give him a supplement to help him calm down and get ready for bed. Another adoptive mom recommended it, Sleep Tranquil, which has melatonin in it. We tried one night without it and had a hard time getting him to settle down so now we only give him half a tablet. He wakes up happy every morning. He seems to get tired in the afternoons but it was too stressful in the beginning to get him to nap. The only down side is that it's hard to get him to have a quiet time.

He is learning English all the time and even tries to sing a few songs that we sing to him, like Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star or Hush Little Baby. He is really into counting and is always showing me what he is counting. Sometimes he seems so eager to learn that he mixes up words, but he definitely knows what an airplane and a helicopter are!

Our love for him continues to grow every day!

Happy 4th Birthday Nicholas!

Although Nicholas' birthday is on October 5th, we celebrated it on Saturday the 3rd. We wanted to keep it small and low key since he didn't even know what a birthday is. I scheduled a tour at our neighborhood fire station for 10 in the morning. The captain on duty let the kids climb into the rig and we watched the firefighters cleaning the station, the truck, etc. He then took out his gear and put everything on while explaining what it was for, the boots, suit, etc. It's nice for the kids to see the firemen in gear so they won't be afraid. He also showed us around the inside of the station. Nicholas Roma was excited to see the trucks and really enjoyed sitting inside of the truck.
For lunch, the kids made pizzas. Nicholas kept eyeing the chocolate cake I made for his birthday. For decoration, I wrote Happy Birthday and put a Playmobil helicopter on top. He was SO excited about the helicopter that he could care less about the cake or that we were singing 'Happy Birthday' to him! He loves that helicopter!

There was a stack of presents on the edge of the table that he didn't notice. Actually they were gifts for him from a shower friends threw me before our last trip. We've been consciously trying not to overwhelm him with things as he can get over stimulated easily. The girls kept trying to get him to open the presents but he was so excited about the helicopter he didn't care. Several hours later, Olivia literally shoved some presents at him and showed him how to open them. Finally he figured out what to do.

He loved everything he got and exclaimed "Wow" every time he opened something new. He got a train set including a Thomas the Train and Harold the Helicopter, a fire truck puzzle, train cap and whistle. He enjoys playing with the trains and even has shown a little interest in the Thomas the Train dvd series.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

In survival mode

I have so much I want to post including pictures from Nicholas' birthday celebration. Unfortunately, the girls have been sick. Olivia missed 5 days of school, went back to school for one day and one hour and threw up. Now Claire is back at school and Olivia is at home. Nicholas has not been sick yet. I sure would like to get out of the house someday...

Friday, October 02, 2009

Not much time

I haven't had much time to myself this week. Poor Olivia has been sick with some virus, she has missed 3 days of school and it's been hard to be cooped up with an active boy. We've been stuck at home watching too much television. There have been hard times and good times. It's hard attending to everyone's needs as I have to make sure Olivia is getting well, Nicholas is vying for my attention all the time and Claire gets jealous. This afternoon was a really bright moment as Claire and Nicholas were getting along well. Claire was drawing rockets and coloring them for Nicholas. She cut out one so Nicholas wanted to cut out the other one and he did pretty well. I'm not sure if he ever had experience with scissors.

Earlier this week, I took Nicholas down south to see an international adoption doctor. We spent almost 3 hours with the doctor. His report was overall positive and in fact, he was very impressed with how well Nicholas was doing after only being here for 2 weeks. Some things we have to work on are teaching him how to play with other children (sharing and taking turns), eating and drinking slower, reducing undesirable behaviors (whining, demanding, tantrums). Wow, the teaching is hard work, I was consciously trying to show him how to wait his turn for a toy and how to share toys. I've also been making a more concerted effort to sit with him during meals and encourage him to eat slower and also make eye contact while eating as I've read that can help with bonding. He is attaching well to us and I think it has been extremely beneficial to keep him away from overstimulating situations.