Living in the blur

When I think about the first few months after Josie and Mabel came home, I remember that it was a sweet and precious time and such a blur!  This has been the same.  =]  We are still here and doing very well, it’s just been super-busy!  Here is our long-overdue post.

We are SO thankful to be home with our sweet Daniel!  =]   Thank you to each of you who encouraged and supported us through this process!  We thank God for him and for you who helped to bring him home through your generosity, prayers and encouragement.  Thank you!!!  =]

In following others’ adoption blogs, I always wanted to hear more about the first weeks and months home…now I understand why people don’t write more…it’s just so busy!  The first few weeks home were pretty exhausting.  A huge part of that was jet-lag.  I think it was 2 or 3 weeks of being really physically tired, and it took about that long for the girls to get back to a normal sleeping routine.  Daniel adjusted very quickly sleep-wise and from the beginning (first night home with us), has been an excellent night-time sleeper (we’re still trying to figure out naps though!).

Another big confusing thing was feeding him.  We were told what they fed him in the orphanage but were not allowed to watch them feed him there…and what they said they fed him didn’t seem to work (and to be clear, we aren’t saying they weren’t truthful, just that we didn’t know HOW they were feeding him “sweet bread”, for example, or what exactly they meant by that, etc.)  The only thing we could get him to eat for the first few weeks was formula thickened (a lot–like thick applesauce) with rice or wheat baby cereal.  He would take that in a bottle with a big hole cut into the nipple.  He seemed to choke on thin liquids and pureed foods and it was really hard to know if he was aspirating or just not used to eating that way… were we holding him wrong? was the nipple wrong?  He was also spitting up all over, all the time.  It was just very confusing.  He is doing a lot better now…eating pureed food with a spoon and drinking from a bottle with a regular nipple.  He still spits up a lot but we’re working with a feeding clinic and that has helped (mostly we’ve learned to feed him less, more often).

By far the busiest thing though, has just been transitioning from two kiddos to three.  Figuring out how to get to the store, feed everybody, get out the door, etc.  “Normal” transition-type things that we would have had whether we had a “typical” child or a “special needs” child…whether we adopted or I gave birth.  Just learning how to do life with a new little person in our family.  :)

People ask how Daniel is doing and he is doing so, so well.  He laughs a lot now.  He loves to be tickled and lifted up high in the air.  He snuggles into my shoulder when I sing to him.  He can sit up!  He scoots all over the house on his tummy with his little break-dancing move.  He loves to be held and will pull at my pants if he wants me to pick him up.  He just learned how to clap his hands this week!  =]  He is much less afraid of all sorts of things.  There’s lots more to say and I’ll try to write more later on some of this, but for now know that we are so thankful to have him home.  We couldn’t be more blessed.  =]

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Learning to eat with a spoon

Learning to eat with a spoon

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First time in a swing

First time in a swing

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Thankful for my three sweeties

Thankful for my three sweeties!

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Gotcha Day!

Everything was going splendidly for Gotcha Day.  Josie and Mabel were ready.  The gifts for the orphanage workers were purchased and packed.  Our driver/helper Niko was on time (as usual) to pick us up.  Then we got in the car, and Julie said, “Eww, what’s that on the seat?  Ken, can I have a Kleenex?”
Ken:  “What is it?”
Julie:  “I don’t know, but it is gross.”
A few minutes later:
Julie:  “Mabel, what is on your shoulder?  Oh no!  I think a bird got you!
We spent several minutes and most of our antibacterial wipes cleaning it up and then…
Josie:  “Mama, it’s on your arm too!”
and so it was…and then we found it in 3 places on her back and one place on her pants…

 We still don’t know exactly how the bird got both of them, but he, she, it was thorough.

After that mini-adventure, things went very well.  We arrived at the orphanage.  A doctor for the orphanage came out and requested our clothes for Daniel, which we gave to her.  About 10 minutes later, a caretaker brought him out in his new outfit.  We took him and all crowded around him.  So happy!

The director was off that day but came in to finalize things for us.  The nice lawyer who handles all the orphanage paperwork was there as well.  The director gave our girls lollipops again and a little stuffed animal each from his office.  We signed a bunch of papers, took pictures, gave our gifts, thanked the director for everything and wished him well, and we were off with our new baby!!

Photos in order:

Bird 2, Us 0

Bird 2, Us 0

Waiting for Daniel to be brought out (from down the long hall).

Waiting for Daniel to be brought out (from down the long hall).

Here he comes!

Here he comes!

Here he is!

Here he is!

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Daniel with the orphanage director.

Daniel with the orphanage director.

With the nice, lawyer lady.

With the nice, lawyer lady.

Outside the orphanage.

Outside the orphanage.

Outside the orphanage with Uncle Niko (driver/adoption worker).

Outside the orphanage with Uncle Niko (driver/adoption worker).

First meal with the 5 of us.

First meal with the 5 of us.

Baby Daniel's first meal with us (about 5 formulations before we "got it right")

Baby Daniel’s first bottle with us (about 5 formulations before we “got it right”)

First evening with Daniel.

First evening with Daniel.

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Snippets

We’re back now.  Will post more on that soon I hope.  Here are some notes I was taking on our trip:

———————-

A couple proverbs from our driver/adoption worker here:

When speaking about people running red lights in Ukraine:

“Save a minute, but lose a life.”

and when waiting for a document:

“If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.”

—————

There are a lot of break dancers in Kiev performing.  We have watched them several times.  Last week, we were in our living room here and Josie said, “Can you break dance?”  I started imitating the break dancers standing up. Then she said, “Can you spin on your head?”

A couple nights ago I was telling the girls a bedtime, Bible story:  “And then they brought the Ark of the Covenant back to Jerusalem, and David was dancing so hard for God…”

Mabel:  “Maybe he spinned on his head?”

———————

Mabel a few days ago:  Can we go to Ukraine?

—–

Mabel:  Daddy, what you dood?  (what did you do?)

Mabel:  What he doos?  (what does he do?)

——————

Josie often says now on walks:  “Maybe we should get a waffle?”

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A Crazy, Good Day

Today was a crazy day and good day.  We were planning to have Julie visit Daniel today.  That all changed when we received a phone call from our facilitator requesting that both Julie and I (and Josie and Mabel) meet an adoption worker at the orphanage to close Daniel’s bank account.  (Each child in an orphanage has a bank account into which the government here gives money for the support of that child.  When the child is adopted, the new parents often sign the money over to the child’s respective orphanage — which is what we did as well.)

So instead of just Julie going, all 4 of us went.  This was hard in that it is a pretty long trip walking for two three year olds.  It was good though in that Josie and Mabel both got to meet Daniel today!  They were very excited; every time we mentioned it today beforehand, they started jumping up and down and cheering!

The girls had quite a nice time meeting Daniel.  Then, for the first time in weeks, they got to play unimpeded (without Mommy and Daddy holding their hands to keep them from getting lost or run over) on the orphanage playground equipment.  Afterwards, we walked with the director to meet our facilitator at the bank.  The director gave lollipops to each of our girls (their first lollipop ever) — this turned out to be a saving grace, as it provided sugar fuel for our journey home (see below).

All went quite well.  The biggest, unexpected thing is that the driver/worker who was going to meet us there at the bank and then drive us back to our apartment, wasn’t able to get there in time, and so we ended up walking and doing the subway to get back home (we had expected to only have to do this one way).  At the end of it all we were all exhausted.  Josie is just coming off of being sick, and neither of the girls got naps today due to needing to do this together.  Our pattern on the way home was 1) everyone walk, 2) girls get tired then Ken and Julie carry them until they can’t carry them anymore, 3) repeat…   =]

Things we are thankful for:
— Daniel is in a good orphanage with a good director.
— We will probably get him this Monday!!  =]
— Josie “pulled it together” after dropping her lollipop in the subway.
— Celentano’s, our favorite restaurant here (McDonalds is a very-close second), is on the way home from the subway.
— We all made it home (the girls went to bed at 7:15 pm).  Josie fell asleep during the Bible story — that has never happened before.  Mabel and Julie fell asleep soon after.  =]

Video of the girls meeting Daniel for the first time:

Some photos from today:

Meeting Daniel

Meeting Daniel

Everyone loves Daniel!

Everyone loves Daniel!  (you may notice the 9-piece Chicken McNugget box to the right.  9-piece is the largest size here…imagine that!! )

The girls love "the park"

The girls love “the park”

Mabel playing unencumbered (by Mommy and Daddy)

Mabel playing unencumbered (by Mommy and Daddy)

Running for some reason

Running for some reason

trying some more...

trying to get a picture of our three kids in a row

(trying to get a picture of the three of the kids in a row)

Trying some more

Trying out each other's lollypops (this was the first time they have ever had a lollypop)

Trying out each other’s lollipops at the bank (this was the first time they have ever had a lollipop)

Celentanos! (best pizza and spicy tea in town)   (Mommy is pretty tired.)

Celentanos! (best pizza and spicy tea in town!)    (Mommy is pretty tired.)

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A little more about baby

Daniel is doing well now.  The fever has not come back and he seems to be breathing normally, so it probably was a teething fever (for which we are very happy and thankful).  Julie and I have been alternating days to visit him and staying home with the girls.

A little more about baby Daniel:  He weighs about 16 lbs.  He is 17 months old.  He seems to be getting more comfortable with us.  — There was that week where he had the fever, and we were not able to visit him.  We found that he didn’t respond the same way to us after not having seen us for a week — he turned away from us a lot more and he was not as responsive as previously.  This made Julie very sad.  Now though, he seems to be warming up to us again.  In the video below, you’ll see him turn away from Julie at the end.  That video was taken on our 4th day with him.  Now, though, when we put him down on the couch, he will usually move toward us and up into our laps.

He is somewhat mobile, and I expect that when we have the option to put him on the floor (this culture / orphanage does not allow that), we will see more movement.  He does a move we call “flopping”… it’s half break-dancing, half California sea lion.  =]


Some more photos:

For this photo, it was about 70 degrees outside!  They dress them up to look like Ralph's little brother on The Christmas Story even on nice days.

For this photo, it was about 70 degrees outside! They dress them up to look like Ralphie’s little brother on A Christmas Story even on nice days…it has something to do with the culture’s understanding about cold “being bad” we think…we saw this practice in Central Asia too.

Baby Daniel loves his keys that we bring for him to play with.  (You'll probably be seeing fewer photos of us holding him as there will only be one of us there at a time in the coming days.)

Baby Daniel loves his baby keys that we bring for him to play with. (You’ll probably be seeing fewer photos of us holding him as there will only be one of us there at a time in the coming days, but do not worry, he is spending most of his time with us being held.  =]  )

Relaxing with his Mommy.

Relaxing with his Mommy.

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a first and a last

Yesterday, Julie and I were outside our apartment with our girls putting them in their strollers.  Some people walked past us, and Josie said, “A monkey!”  I didn’t even look up, thinking that she must be mistaken, but Julie did, and then she said, “It is a monkey!”
I looked up expecting to see a Capuchin or something on someone’s shoulder, but instead saw a lady carrying a chimpanzee on her hip, like it was her two-year old kid.  The chimp was dressed in a pink, wind-breaker suit, and it was looking over the lady’s shoulder at us.  They disappeared around a corner into an underground parking lot, and so that was all we saw of them.  Wish we could have gotten a photo…not something you see everyday.  =]

 

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Some things to do (with 3-year-olds) here

(Most, if not all, of these photos are from our helper, Seriah.)

Do some water painting.

Do some water painting.

(Melissa and Doug product...brought from the US)

(Melissa and Doug product…brought from the US)

There are at least three of these waffle stands within 1/2 a mile on/near Kreschatyik St.

There are at least three of these waffle stands within 1/2 a mile on/near Kreschatyik St.

They are nice and warm.  Our girls get them "plain" though still sugary.

They are served warm. Our girls get them “plain” though still sweet.  Most people get a fruit or chocolate topping on them.

Yum!

Yum!

Visit the square between St. Michael's (c. 1982 AD) and St. Sophia's (c. 1000 AD).

Visit the square between St. Michael’s (c. 1982 AD) and St. Sophia’s (c. 1000 AD).

Practice squishy faces!

Practice squishy faces!

Squish!

Squish!

Visit an underground mall.  There are multiple ones here that stretch multiple city blocks underground.

Visit an underground mall. There are at least two different ones here that stretch multiple city blocks underground.

This store stands in our way of "walking off the pounds".  It's Sees Candy quality chocolate for about $5 a pound.

This store stands in our way of “walking off the pounds”. It’s Sees Candy quality chocolate for about $5 a pound.

The "band" in the background will forever be known as "the scawey toys".  Just as we were about to get our picture with it, they turned on really loud and start "playing" music.  Mabel started to scream in terror.  Josie, looked at them for a long time dumbfounded and concluded, "I don't like it."

The “Roshen Band” in the background will forever be known as “the scawey toys”. Just as we were about to get our picture with it, the unit turned on really loud and started moving and “playing” music. Mabel screamed in terror. Josie, looked at it for a long time dumbfounded and concluded, “I don’t like it.”

Josie and Mabel like the Roshen mascot better than the Roshen band...

Josie and Mabel like the Roshen mascot better than the Roshen band…(the dog is a big, stuffed animal)

Visit Independence Square.

Visit Independence Square.

(Across the street from Independence Square.)

(Across the street from Independence Square.)  (If you turn around 180 degrees from this point, there is another McDonalds!)

Visit Celentanos.  We like it as it is kid-friendly, with good food, and low to moderately priced food.

Visit Celentanos restaurant. We like it as it is kid-friendly, it has good food, and it has low to moderately priced meals.

Spicy Tea at Celentano's -- Julie's and the helpers' favorite.  It has ginger, and lemon, and mint.

Spicy Tea at Celentano’s — Julie’s and the helpers’ favorite. It has ginger, and lemon, and mint.

Here's what to point to for spicy tea when ordering.

Here’s what to point to for spicy tea when ordering.

Vegetable soup.

Vegetable soup.

Meat soup.

Meat soup.

Telephone theme.

Telephone theme.

They call the pepperoncinis "pepper pepperoni".

The pizza is floppier than in the US, but still good.  They call the pepperoncinis “pepper pepperoni”.  This style can be ordered from the second, pizza page on the menu.  The first page of pizza options have a thinner crust, which incidentally, Julie’s sister Rebecca liked better.  Ken likes the thicker crust better.

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