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!!"