Sunday, August 14, 2011

Overdue Update

I am way overdue for an update on how Ivan and Nick are both doing which I will get to shortly. 

I have been silent here in blogland lately due to some personal events.  As some of you may remember, my dad died in late May, right before we travelled to Moscow to pick up Ivan.  Then in mid-July, my brothers and sisters had just come to visit for my dad's memorial when my stepdad passed away.  This timing also coincided with my return to work full-time (for the first 6 weeks I was working from home).  I went to my hometown in Illinois for my stepdads funeral with my sister and her husband and left all the boys home.  I knew that I would be a mess and that although my mom had not yet met Ivan, it probably wouldn't be the best circumstance for that.  Needless to say, July was quite an emotionally challenging month.  The two losses in close proximity were more than I could handle and I was having a hard time motivating myself to do much more than go to work and take care of the boys.  I'm finally starting to feel like myself again and there is alot to post regarding both Ivan and Nick.

I'll start with Ivan.  I think we have gotten control of the eczema (thanks Rachel for your great advice!).  YAY!  I am so happy it is gone on his face and around his eyes.  What finally worked for us was the Aveeno Baby Eczema Therapy on his face and a mixture of the Aveeno Baby and 1% Cortisone on his body.  He still has a bit of a rash on his chin so we will keep at it.  His chin stays wet most of the time due to constant drooling (from teething) so when we get a break with the teething I'm hoping the chin will clear up too. 

Speaking of teeth, Ivan now has 6 on top and bottom.  He has been teething like crazy since we brought him home.  Luckily he is really good natured and hasn't been too fussy.  When he does get fussy and there is no identifiable root cause I will try giving him Hyland's teething tablets which worked with Nick and seem to work pretty well with him too.

Just this past week Ivan started using the "more" sign and has started walking!  I missed his first unaided steps (while at work) but have been working with him on trying more and more.  He is more confident in walking sideways than forwards.  Seemed odd to me until Bill pointed out that when he cruises around he is usually walking sideways.  He gets so excited when he takes a few steps without help from anyone.  We missed this stage with Nick and its fun to see Ivan mastering these new skills.

We have been spending a fair amount of time at the pool lately.  Nick took swim lessons in early July and did very well.  He went off the diving board for the first time and has started to figure out how to do the crawl.  It's amazing how much faster he gets to his destination when he uses his arms.

Ivan has been enjoying the pool as well.  At first I was hanging out in the baby pool with Ivan while Nick was in his swim lessons and afterwards, but thanks to one of my sweet neighbors who assured me I could handle Nick and Ivan in the big pool, I tried it and found that Nick is pretty self sufficient and just needs an arm to grab onto now and then.  The big pool is where Nick likes to be and it is so much more pleasant than the warm water in the baby pool.  I was really happy to be able to make the transition.

Nick has been enjoying his new role as big brother and is often very helpful with Ivan.  Especially in the morning and at meal times.  Nick has taken to climbing into Ivan's crib in the morning and we will often find the two of them there together laughing and having fun playing.  The one area that I would say Nick needs more time with is being gentle.  He seems to have a hard time understanding that he can't play rough with Ivan.  We will continue to work on this with him.

In the interest of getting this posted I will close with some pictures of the boys!

4th of July Parade

Brothers Hanging Out

Ivan with Aunt Linda


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A weekend of Firsts over the 4th of July!

Happy Independence Day!

We are enjoying a quiet weekend at home this 4th.  We started the weekend off a bit early on Friday with Bill taking the boys into work early on Friday afternoon before they went home around 2.  Nick had a fun time meeting everyone and according to Bill, Ivan held up pretty well but by the time they got home Ivan was exhausted so immediately went down for his afternoon nap.  After nap time we made a late afternoon trip to the neighborhood pool.  This was our first trip to the pool this year!  Last year we went several times a week but with all the changes we hadn't made it over yet.  Nick took two sessions of swim lessons at the Y over the winter and unfortunately forgot much of what he learned but will hopefully catch up quickly.  He really wants to go off the diving board this summer so that is the goal.  Ivan spent his time in the baby pool and seemed to enjoy it.  He loved splashing around and also liked to try to pick up the various leaves and blades of grass that were floating around.  He is not quite tall enough to sit in the baby pool without his face being partially submerged so thus did alot of standing.

On Saturday morning Bill took Nick to see Cars 2, which they both seemed to enjoy.  Apparently there is a 3D version and a regular version.  They went to the 3D and Bill noted that although he enjoyed it he thought Nick probably would have liked the regular version more (something about the glasses not fitting right).  It was the first movie in a theater that Nick has ever been to and it was a definite hit.

Saturday night we went out for dinner for the first time as a family of 4.  We went for Mexican and everyone did really well.  I really couldn't believe it.  Nick is usually pretty good in restarants but we weren't sure how patient Ivan would be.  It turns out Ivan is quite easy going and took the experience in stride.

On Sunday we went to a party at some friends from our old neighborhood.  It was so great to see so many families that we've known for years and I just can't believe how grown up all the kids are.  Of course, we were thrilled to introduce Ivan to everyone.  He did great!  We are definitely getting out more with Ivan than we did with Nick at first.  I think its good for him and for us, even if it gets away from the "keep the world small" creed of adoption.

Ivan is really adapting quite well.  The main problem we're battling right now is his eczema.  The first time we met him the eczema on one of his cheeks was so bad it looked like it was disfiguring his face.  When we finally took custody of him it had cleared up quite a bit so I was relieved but since we've had him patches have come back on his face and arms.  The worst is the redness on his upper and lower eyelids.  I didn't get much support from our pediatrician regarding treatment so I am working through various remedies that friends have suggested including working on the diet and the environment.  We already have scentless cleaning products due to Bill's sensitive skin and we have tried to keep Ivan's clothing to all natural fibers.  We have eliminated cows milk and are gearing up to eliminate wheat.  I also tried one of the many Aveeno products yesterday and it seems to be helping.  They have some specific products for babies and eczema, which aren't the one that we've got but we will try those next if the current one doesn't work. 

Adding to his discomfort would be the heat rash he has developed under his chin and on his neck.  This is exacerbated by his constant drooling (from the 4-5 teeth that are coming in) and crazy heat we've had around here lately. 

Picture post coming soon.

I hope everyone had a great holiday weekend!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day! And an update on brotherly love

Happy Father's Day to all the dads and future dads out there! 

Today is a happy and sad day for me.  It's happy because its Bill's first Father's Day with two sons!  It's sad because it is the first Father's Day since my dad passed away.  My dad passed away this May, between our Court and Pickup trips for Ivan.  It was very sad to lose him but I know he is in a better place now (sorry for the cliche).  My dad was diagnosed with alzheimers several years ago and was advanced in his decline.  I'd estimate he stopped knowing me between 3 and 4 years ago.  I had a long time to greive for the loss of my Dad as I knew him, the loss of him knowing my children, the loss of him knowing me, my siblings and my stepmom.  I thought I had greived all that I could for my Dad already, but have found myself getting teary eyed now and then over the past few days, knowing that Father's Day was approaching.  Given how events played out over the past few months I am so happy that we chose to keep Ivan's given name, which is the Russion version of John.  John was my Dad's name and I am glad we were able to honor him in this way!

We have now been home for two weeks and things are going well although we've had some rough spots.  Ivan's adjustment has been good for the most part.  He is crawling more on his knees than on his stomach and he loves cruising on the furniture.  He is feeding himself finger foods and is starting to enjoy eating food with more texture.  We are still mainly on baby food, stage 2 and 3 and I hope to introduce more "real" food such as pasta, soft fruits and veggies in the upcoming weeks. 

Ivan is a good sleeper and sleeps 11 hours per night almost like clockwork.  He then takes two naps that total 3 - 4 hours.  He doesn't cry when he wakes up, which can be challenging if you're sleeping, or not checking on him every 15 minutes. 

He doesn't like having his diaper changed and also doesn't like getting dressed, which makes for some challenges throughout the day.  He is definitely getting more comfortable with the routine and surroundings and his true personality is showing through.

Now onto Nick, I would say the adjustment for him has been much harder to manage than the adjustment for Ivan.  Ever since bringing Nick home he has had difficulties with transitions.  The transitions of teachers and classrooms at his pre-school/daycare have been the hardest for him to handle up to this point.  After moving classes or getting a new teacher it takes Nick between 2 and 3 weeks to settle in to the change.  The addition of a brother has proven to be difficult as well but he is coming around.

Nick is extremely interested in Ivan's sleeping, eating, pooping, etc.  Every night at bedtime he wants to check on Ivan before reading stories and every morning he wants to check on Ivan.  He likes to give him kisses and recently has shown interest in picking him up/holding him.  He is getting better about sharing his toys and is pretty adept at redirecting Ivan away from things he doesn't want him playing with.

Nick has regressed in some ways as he now wants help every morning when getting dressed and he also often wants help eating.  Another recent development is the over-dramatization when he hurts himself.  For example, if Nick trips and falls down, in the past he would get up and brush it off.  Lately, if he falls or whatever, he makes a big deal about it, cries, needs to be picked up and generally over reacts.  I don't think this is unusual in any way.  Its just how things are these days.

I hope everyone has a great Sunday and Father's Day!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Happy 1st Birthday Ivan!

Today was Ivan's 1st birthday!  We had a low-key celebration with just the family.  I had decided that I would make cupcakes for the occasion, which is almost unheard of around here (me baking that is).  Ivan and I had to go out around lunchtime to meet Bill to have some documents notarized (yeah, the paperwork continues!) and we stopped at the grocery store to pick up the cupcake makings.  On the way there I reminded myself, remember the eggs, remember the eggs, and what did I forget, the eggs.  I did finally make cupcakes, but not until later this afternoon after Bill got home from work.

Here are some pictures from today.  Also, I promise I will post on Ivan's progress and adjustment so far and also on how Nick is doing with his new brother as soon as I can.  Happy Flag Day!

Cruising with the truck

Learning to pucker up!

Crazy Hair

Help with the candle!

Not sure about the icing...

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Our Trip Home

I have so much to catch up on!  I'll start with our trip home and see how far I can get.

We flew out of Moscow last Saturday morning.  Ivan woke up Saturday morning with the sniffles and though he felt warm he didn't have a fever (more on this later), which was good news.  We had packed fairly lightly for the trip so we only had one large suitcase, two small suitcases, an umbrella stroller, a backpack and my carry on bag.  Check in and security went very well and we made it to our gate at 11am for our 1pm flight.  While we were waiting we met a gentleman who had just completed court in one of the regions and was flying back to the states while his wife stayed in country for the 10 day waiting period.  We had a nice chat with him about adoptions, Ivan, the process, etc.  The time passed fairly quickly and I was definitely relieved by this.

We purchased a seat for Ivan so that we could have a row of 3 seats for the trip to New York.  Once we settled in we decided to feed Ivan lunch and were hopeful that he would sleep after that.  Ivan had been a pretty good sleeper so we had high hopes.  He did sleep a bit after his lunch, but with all the activity of the carts and Bill and I receiving our meals, Ivan woke up and wouldn't go back to sleep.  I think he had been sleeping for about an hour at that point.  Unfortunately, he didn't sleep again during the 10 hour flight until we landed.  It was quite challenging to say the least and I think the fact that he was feeling bad did not help the situation.  I'm really not sure what we did the whole time to keep him entertained but somehow we made it through.  He literally crashed as we touched down in New York.  I was happy because the poor guy was exhausted at that point (~20 hours into the trip).  But moving him through Immigration, rechecking bags and going back through security, while trying to keep him asleep proved to be very difficult.

While we were going through security a couple that we had been sitting close to on the plane asked if Ivan was adopted, I think they probably saw the passport or the envelope when we went through Immigration.  Anyway, I said yes and they told me they were in the process.  So, I asked which region and then it hit me that they would have been meeting their referral so I asked if they had met their child and they told me that they had had to turn down their referral and apparently did not receive a second referral.  I started to tear up as I told them how sorry I was.  Having turned down our first referral during our adoption of Nick, I felt so bad for them and to go home without meeting a second child would be a very very difficult outcome.  They told me it had been a very tough few days but that seeing all the people with their adopted children on the flight (I think there were 3 or 4 families) helped remind them that it can and does work out.  They seemed like the sweetest people, I wish them the best as they go forward with the process.

Ivan slept during the bulk of our layover in New York and aside from moving gates twice, our flight left on time and we made it back home around 11pm.

The trip was pretty hard because of Ivan's lack of sleep, and our lack of sleep.  But, the good news is that he acclimated to the new time zone very quickly.  Aside from waking up between 4 and 5 am on the first two or three mornings Ivan has been sleeping about 11 hours per night and is taking two naps per day for another 3 hours of sleep.

I have so much more to post about our first week but want to get this out there so I'll write more as soon as I can and will close with some pictures!


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Ivan Update

My plans to blog daily have been foiled by the technical issues we've had. They are due to a combination of poor Internet service in the apartment and the lack of an adapter that will allow transfer of pictures from my Canon camera to our iPad. We didn't bring the laptop on this trip and thought it would be fine but now to get pictures to the iPad is a major undertaking. We have take pics with the iPhone and then can email them to the blog for posting because the iPad and blogger don't seem to cooperate when it comes to pictures. So these are the troubles. Doesn't sound too bad but. Throw in the poor Internet connection and it can be pretty frustrating.

Aside from our tech difficulties our time with Ivan so far has been wonderful. I didn't mention it before but in our time with Ivan before this trip we had never seen him smile. I would say I was somewhat concerned about that but tried not to dwell on it. We also hadn't seen him crawl or even attempt to crawl. What we've experienced since bringing him home is an easy going, smiley, cuddly little guy who shimmies around on his tummy to get where he wants to be.

I haven't mentioned it yet but Ivan is almost one year old. We are thrilled that we'll be home for his first birthday and will celebrate with friends and family. So the reason I say this is that he is definitely delayed a bit. He doesn't know how to feed himself finger foods yet. We will hold out yogurt melts, puffs or cheerios and he just looks at them. I am making it my mission to teach him that he has the power to put the snack in his mouth but he seems perfectly content to be fed.

He is quite verbal and chatters away at times. He gets very excited at meal times and kicks his legs around until we start feeding him. He seems to like everything we've fed him so far. We're sticking with the canned baby food, yogurt, apple-pear sauce and have moved him onto Milk. So far so good with that!

He is a pretty good sleeper too. Yesterday the embassy doc, Dr. Boris, came to the apartment to do the embassy physical at 7:30am. After he left we walked down to Red Square to take some pictures and to enjoy the gorgeous morning. The weather has been just beautiful. Ivan fell asleep on the walk home and during our stop for coffee. We went out around 1pm to get lunch and again, Ivan fells asleep on the way to lunch and slept right up until we left the restaurant. He finished his nap with me on our bed, too sweet!

Today we go to the Embassy to complete the process for Ivan's Visa. We found out earlier in the week that we would be done with everything by today and that we could leave Friday if we could change our flights. When Bill called yesterday we found out it would cost about $2000 to change the flights to Friday. Needless to say, we're staying till Saturday.

With that I'll say bye for now and will try to post more pictures soon!