Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Four years ago today....

We picked our precious Jackson up from the Prokopyevsk baby house in Kemerovo.  We can't remember life without him.  He's definitely not a baby anymore.  He's all long arms and skinny, scabbed up knees.  When I pick him up he can pretty much wrap his legs all the way around me!

He's funny, thoughtful, gentle and kind.  He's adjusting to his new role in the family and learning to be a big brother.

He loves popsicles, knock-knock jokes and pirates.  He has a vivid imagination, lost his training wheels and can ride his scooter like the wind.

He is smart, giggly and gorgeous.  His best friend is still his stuffed bear and he thinks his Daddy hung the moon.

He is my heart, my love and my life.  He taught me what being a Mommy was all about... and he did it so well, I wanted to do it again!

Happy Birthday and Happy Gotcha day Jackson Charles... we love you more than you'll ever know.

Trip One, 9 months old

Three years old

Five years old

Where have you been? I've been worried sick!!

I can tell you where *I've* been... surviving day to day with three little boys who are determined to kill me before I see my 45th birthday!!  There is no excuse... other than the lame (insert whiney tone) "I've been so busy, what do you expect?"  I've had several people write and ask me, politely of course, if I had just up and fallen off the face of the earth.

Actually, I have many, many important tasks to attend to daily.  Getting the kids up, dressed, fed, played with, fed, played with, fed again (sensing a pattern anyone?), put down for a nap, fed, played with and fed a final time before night-night time.  My grocery bill has tripled since we got home.  Of course our eating out bill has fallen off to practically nothing unless you include the odd Papa Gino's order.  When I'm not feeding them or playing with them I spend my spare time hiding in the living room eating sugar-free popsicles or Cheerios from a bowl with my tongue.  Pretty thought, eh?

And now for the update...  Jackson took almost three months to settle down.  He's struggled so hard with the boys coming home.  He's needed tons of support and understanding.  Suffice it to say I will NOT be winning any Mother-of-the-Year awards this year.  Sometimes support and understanding are hard to come by when the two newest additions are both screaming and pointing their fingers at their big brother as the source of their distress.  There were times I had to keep Jackson with me at arms reach to stop him from hurting them when I was out of the room.  I had several friends at work describe the same sort of behavior with their older kids and new babies.  I think one of the first words that Carter said clearly was "Jack push!"  (as in he pushed me)

I think he's going to be okay in the long run.  There is definitely more laughter than tears when they are together now!  We decided to keep him home with us instead of sending him back for a third year of pre-school.  He's much less stressed and has really started showing me what he knows.  It's funny, he knows all the letter sounds and can tell you what words start with the same letter.  But he can't tell me the reverse... that Snake starts with an 'S'.

Cooper is amazing.  He is crazy smart and understands pretty much everything we say.  He's using three word sentences and has started using "What" and "Where" questions appropriately.  He sauntered into the kitchen today and asked me "What doing Mommy?  Make dinner?"  If you were to drop me into a Russian family three months ago, I can promise you I'd still be crying and asking someone how to find the toilet.  I would not be speaking clearly or coherently!

He's gotten comfortable enough to start showing us his not so cute and lovable side.  Most of his frustration stems from not being able to say what he means, or not getting the subtlety of an explanation. And sometimes an almost three year old just doesn't want to be told "No"!!  He will let Lance console him if I'm not here, but still will NOT let him hold him if I'm anywhere around.  He can go for several days without having a single meltdown, then have 15 in 8 hours.  It just depends on how open his window of tolerance is that day.  He's let go of his anxious, people pleasing behaviors and started being more real.

And little Carter... affectionately known as "Senor Soggy Thumb" has definitely started to show his personality.  Some days it's a day long crying jag, but most days he's pretty easy going.  It's hard being the youngest of three, but he doesn't take anything off his brothers.  In fact, he's the biggest offender in the snatch and grab derby.  Giving him credit, he does hand it back when asked, which I think is pretty cool for a twenty month old!   He's talking a LOT and shows wonderful receptive language skills.  His favorite word is still "Up? Up?"

He's the best hugger, snuggler and kisser out of the group.  I was in tears when we'd been home for six weeks because he was so indiscriminate with other women.  Now he won't go to ANYONE.  If he is in my arms and his beloved Nana or Aunt Kissy tries to take him he starts bawling.  He'll let them pick him up from the floor, but braces his arms and leans away.  When I hold him he totally melts into my neck and gives me smooches and hugs.  I love being the favorite!!

Of course, no update would be complete without photos, so without further ado....

Captain Jack at his birthday party last week.

How cute is he... really?

Super Coop to the rescue!

My baby...

Our entire family says "Arrgh, Matey!  Thanks for stopping by!!"

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Back to our regularly scheduled programming...

Hey!  Long time, no see!  I've finally come up for air, briefly.  I have NEVER been busier In. My. Entire. Life.  Let's see how things are going around here, shall we?

Jack... our first born.  Not ever so happy about being a big brother these days.  LOTS of sassiness, LOTS of tears and whining...and my personal favorite, acting out with body fluids.  At least he's only peeing in the shed outside, but still.  He knows where pee-pee goes, and it AIN'T in the shed!!  This morning he spent some time scrubbing the shed floor.  It seems harsh, but it's a clear case of a direct consequence for an action.  There was no screaming or accusation, just a calm statement that the pee needed to be cleaned up so the shed wouldn't be yucky to play in.  Since he pee'd in it, he cleaned it up.  Over and done with.  We're trying to create more time in the day for him alone, but it's still really hard.  I'm going to take him out to lunch and to see Toy Story 3 this week.  He also starts summer camp on Monday for three hours each morning with his good friend Jake.  I'm hoping that will help him regulate a little bit.  He's trying so hard with the boys.  He keeps patting them on the back, hugging them and offering them words of encouragement.  We keep telling him what an awesome big brother he is.  He really is.

Cooper... the middle child.  Wow, what a dramatic change!  The out right screaming-Nelly tantrums have almost completely abated.  He'll still avert his gaze and freeze when he's corrected, but is quick to re-group and re-attune with me.  *Me* being the operative word.  He's still not too sure about his Daddy!  Poor Lance is doing everything except pulling candy bars out of his butt to help him attach, but Cooper isn't having it.  If I'm not around, he'll tolerate him.  If I'm here, Lance doesn't stand a chance in hell of getting his attention or cooperation.  EXCEPT... today Jack and Lance were playing Wii and Cooper wanted to try.  He actually stood between his legs and let him help him play "Speed Slice".  It required some pretty close contact between the two of them.  Cooper was having so much fun, he didn't notice.  Lance had to come help me at bedtime tonight and he smiled and blew him good night kisses.  Slow and steady wins the race folks, slow and steady.  He is so darn SMART!!  He's using a bunch of words in English, still says a couple of Russian ones and his language comprehension is staggering.

Carter... the baby.  He used to just love Lance, now he screams like he's being attacked by Flying Monkeys when he picks him up.  I get slobbered on and pretty generally adored by him, poor Lance gets arching and crying.  It will change, I know that.  He's doing what he's supposed to do, bonding with his Mommy.  Once he's more secure with me, he'll be able to start hooking up with his Daddy again.  It's getting harder to put him to bed at night.  He's decided that night time is the right time to make out with Mommy.  I've never been on the receiving end of so much toddler spit!  He thinks it the best thing ever to grab my cheeks (or ears, or hair) and pull me in for smooches.  Thank God he's learning to keep his mouth closed!  He takes his bottle like a champ, calls me "Mama", and is starting to use some baby signs.  He just turned 17 months old, but acts more like a 9-10 month old.  He's been having trouble sleeping through the night lately.  He partially wakes and cries about every 90 minutes or so.  Most of the time he settles back quickly, sometimes he needs a quick cuddle and rock to go back down.  I remember Jackson did the same thing when he was little.  Most mornings find Carter in bed with me, snoozing happily.

Now for the good part... photos.  First a couple of before and after shots.  The "befores" were from our first trip.  The "afters" are from the last couple of days.

The first day we met.  We called this look "Stink-Eye".

Today, playing in the tent with Jack and Carter.

Very serious, wouldn't you agree?

Swinging in the yard and loving it!

Playing "camping" in the dining room... aren't they CUTE?

We're finally feeling like a family... and it's pretty darn great.  I think that child slobber will turn out to be the next fountain of youth.  My skin has never looked better!!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

We're home, and sooooo tired!

44 is too old to have three children under the age of five... God is laughing at me right now.  I just know it. I will write a long post detailing our flight home once I've stopped having nightmares about it.  Suffice it to say we were indeed "those people with the screaming children".  At least it's over now.

We are home, they are smiley and playful when they're not crying and climbing me like a tree to be held Every. Single. Moment. Of. The. Day.  This morning I banned everyone under the age of five from the sofa for 30 minutes... the I ran right over and sat on it with my feet pulled up off the floor.  Amazingly enough, it worked until someone fell over and bonked their noggin.  As I climbed off "Mommy's Island" and back into the shark tank, I got tackle hugged by Jack, rescued Cooper from his boo-boo and had Carter screaming to be picked up because he saw me touching the other two boys.  *sigh*

Here are some photos of their cuter moments....

Couldn't you just eat him alive?

Cooper helping weed the flower beds... he volunteered, I swear!

Jack showing me the clover he's eating... thanks baby!

Don't let my tired sarcasm fool you... it's been pretty good thus far.  There have been some moments that made me want to just cry with joy and others that made me just want to cry.  Lance keeps going to bed really early... I think he's hiding!  Everybody slept through the night last night, we're consistently getting all three in bed by 8 pm, and this morning they slept until about 6:15.  I think everyone's body clocks are finally starting to adjust to the time change.  They little ones nap for over three hours every day... I have to wake them up to make sure they'll get to bed!

I'm hoping that God gave me good sleepers to balance out all the crying.  Someone please tell me that it gets better... it does, doesn't it?  Somehow two crying is so much harder to deal with than one.  It's that feeling that somebody is getting shortchanged, you know?

I'm heading to bed.  Have I told you lately how much I LOVE my bed?

Friday, June 11, 2010

We can see the finish line from here...

Today is it... Embassy Day.  Once we have those visas in our hands, almost nothing (I won't say nothing) can stop us from going home!  It's been a VERY busy couple of days getting used to our two newest family members while they're getting used to us.  I have to admit that I'm really, really surprised at how willing they are to accept cuddling and nuturing.  They both mold nicely when held, although Cooper still needs a little encouragement to lay his head on my shoulder.  When we lay down for nap time they both will lie facing me and let me pet them and kiss them.  They already know what a kiss is and if you ask for one they both pucker up and will give you a big smooch.  I've been rubbing their cheeks and saying "sweet baby", and last night at bedtime, Cooper started stroking my face and trying to say "Sweet baby" back to me.  I got all choked up and had a hard time not crying... he's so darn SWEET.

He's been an awesome little helper and is already learning so much English.  I'm completely astounded at how quickly he's picking it up.  He says "Mama, Dada, Jack-Jack, pants, Mimi, Nana and Hi"  For a child who barely said a single word when we visited in the baby house, he has been chattering and singing non-stop since we picked him up.  When we're done with dinner, he pushes in the chairs and puts the stools against the wall.  After I change diapers, he puts the wipes and changing pad away.  Perhaps each child had a little job in the baby house?   It's so funny, I just show him the diaper and he runs and jumps up on the couch and lays down on the changing pad!!  You gotta love it!!

Carter was most likely just exhausted, hungry and in pain when we saw him these last two weeks.  I've been giving him Tylenol and Motrin for his teething and keeping him fed and hydrated...with that he's an absolute dream!  He's playful and smiley and loves to cuddle and smooch.  The shrieking has eased up considerably, it now centers primarily around the beginning and end of meals.  When we start feeding him, he shrieks for more between bites, then when he's all done and we start cleaning up, he shrieks like we forgot to feed him.  He's easily distracted, but Jeez he's loud!!  He's a hard-core thumb sucker, and does not care for any pacifier substitute I offer.  I wasn't sure how easy he'd be to get back on the bottle, but when he saw it the first time his little eyes lit up like it was Christmas.  He settled in easily tummy to tummy and sucked it right down.  We weren't sure whether to offer him formula or just go straight to milk since we weren't sure if they could tolerate lactose or not.  In the end, we went with milk and they're both doing well.  No diarrhea or apparent tummy upsets.

Speaking of tummies, I had no idea people of that size could eat that much food.  I know I mentioned it before, but Oh. My. God.  These children can eat me under the table.  I am seriously afraid of gastric rupture.  I put reasonable (to heavy) portions down, they suck it down, then look for more.  You guys have seen the photos.  These are not starving orphans.  They have major thigh chub and guts that hang over their pants.  I guess it's residual from their bio home.  They had a fairly hard start in life and it doesn't sound like meals were any too regular there... I imagine it's hard to let go of that fear.  Plus we're strangers and they're not sure how regularly the chuck wagon runs around here!

Okay, I know that no one is hanging around for my delightful prose.  Ya'll want photos, right?  Here you go...

Kickin' with sippy cups after breakfast.

A little art class this morning.

Super Coop's new hair cut.  I had to lose that fringy bang!!

Carter at the park yesterday.

Okay, guys... we're off to the Embassy!!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Gotcha Day!!!

Let me tell you... going from one to three?  Woooo boy!!  We got to the baby house around 11:30, got them dressed and practiced some speed-feeding maneuvers to get lunch into them before we hit the road.  They got a little "extra" by way of some Dramamine in their yogurt to try and stave off any motion sickness and encourage a little nap.  *sigh* It didn't work.

Traffic was crazy coming back to the apartment, so we didn't get home until 2:15.  Lance had exactly 15 minutes to inhale some food before running back out the door to pick up their passports.  Yes he did.  My husband left me ALONE with all three of them less than 15 minutes after arriving home.  It wasn't that bad until dinner time.

Have you ever tried to prepare a meal with three children under the age of five circling your legs?  It was like preparing Thanksgiving dinner at a homeless shelter!  All of them whining and looking for chow.  I managed to get them all fed with only a couple of minor meltdowns surrounding bib removal and the ending of the meal.   Then we all trooped out to watch a little Baby Einstein prior to bath time.

I managed to lure both of them into the tub with a combination of oohing and ahhing over the magic of water falling into the tub and the wholesale throwing of toys into the water.  Cooper went in pretty happily and started splashing.  Carter did NOT care for the feeling of water on his testicles.  He kept hopping up like he was getting goosed!

Notice I keep saying "I" did this, and "I" did that.  My poor hubby didn't get home til after bath time, at which point I sent him flying across the street to the grocery store.  I'm not sure we fully appreciated how much these kids can EAT!!!  Dear Lord, I felt like I had been visited by a plague of locusts!

Bedtime went fairly peacefully, a little repetitive lying back down a la Super Nanny, and they both passed out.  It is way past time for me to crash out... please pray that they sleep through the night!

Here are a couple of photos from our official Gotcha Day:

Our first photo as a family of five.  

Checking out some books...

Bath time at the OK Corral...

I'm so happy, I could just die.  Seriously.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Here's some photos from Trip Two...

This is Carter... he's a big boy now with his big boy hair-do.  

This is Cooper... he hasn't changed too much (still gorgeous!)

And here they all are, dressed alike for Mommy's pleasure! (Carter is eating a cracker in this photo... Carter is ALWAYS eating something!)

More photos later today from Gotcha Day.  I will warn you now, they will be dressed in matching outfits.  That's just how I roll.