Sunday, December 28, 2008

Merry Christmas

Cousins in their matching pajamas (note Nik's focus on the dog)

"I want a puppy for Christmas"


Alexis in her "butterfly dress"

Cousins - Ryan, Nik, and Alex

The boys (and Jen) playing with Alex's doll house

Playing with his new water table

Hanging with Grammy

We had a fun and crazy Christmas with my family. My sister and her family came into town and met Nikolai for the first time. My mother-in-law came into town too, so in total we had 10 people! My niece and nephew were of course full of energy and for the most part Nik kept up with them. They were really sweet and good about letting him play with them. Alexis kind of treated Nik like a doll and kept squeezing his cheeks and giving him kisses.

Nikolai has figured out that “more” means more of anything. He even says “more ba” for more bottle. When I ask him if he wants to eat or if he is hungry he will pretend to chew, opening and closing his mouth. He will even do this for his medicine, which is lucky since he will be taking it for the next 9 monhts. But now he has started doing this for anything he wants – which mostly this holiday has been my sister’s Boston terrier. Nik crawled all over the house following Cocoa. At first Cocoa liked it and gave Nik lots of kisses (tongue to tongue – ah!). Eventually Cocoa started running when Nikolai came close. Nik had a particular yell he reserved for the dog, although he has now started making the sound for our guinea pig too.

Nik is not walking, but can stand a little on his own. He balances for a few seconds and then gets overly excited by the event, laughs, and falls down. He will also walk holding on to our fingers, leading with his belly. He just learned to put things “in” and let go – so maybe soon he can help put things away rather than just pulling them out? His Grammy got him a neat train with alphabet blocks that shoot out the back of the train into the next car if you put them in the top of the engine, and Nik likes to put the little blocks in the slot. Nik has really gotten into reading books. He pulls his books off the shelf one at a time, looks at the cover, and either drops them or sits down and indicates he wants them read. I have memorized some of his favorites – and I think he has too. At one point I started reciting one of the books because it was in my head and driving me crazy, and Nik crawled right over to his book case wanting to read the book. It is amazing how much he seems to understand even though he cannot express it yet.

The youth at church say Nikolai is the baby from Ice Age. We watched Ice Age to see what they meant, and they are totally right! He makes the same looks and is always clapping and happy like the Ice Age baby.

This is my last week off from work and I am definitely not looking forward to going back. My parents are going to watch Nik for most of January, and then he starts at daycare. This week we plan to try to get some of the post-adoption things done. First we need to apply for a social security number. Unfortunately we were mistakenly sent a Permanent Resident Card for Nik rather than a Certificate of Citizenship so we do not know if we will have to update his SS# info once we have proof of citizenship. USCIS told us the "system" shows him as a citizen, not a permanent resident. We need to get new passport photos taken for all of us, and apply for passports. I also need to take Nik to the lab to try once again to get blood drawn to finish the range of tests recommended for adopted children, and required by our pediatrician before he will sign off on the daycare application. We have our first post-placement visit in January. We are trying to correlate the visits required for VA and Kaz to save on costs. At some point we need to take the required online courses for Hague compliance, update our home study, and submit an I-800a for China.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Update 1

We had a fun Thanksgiving in Pennsylvania at Chris’s mom’s house. My parents and our friends from Salisbury, MD joined us as well. Nik did well with meeting a lot of new people as relatives stopped by to visit. He had fun playing with our friend’s 5-year old. By the second day he was very attached to his Grammy and crawled over to her to be picked up. He also seemed to really like her big black lab, Abby. Nik gets a little overwhelmed by the full-face licking, but so do I. At one point, Nik was playing on the floor in the kitchen and someone let the dog in, who went right over to Nik. We put Abby back outside really quickly, and Nik crawled over to the door crying until we opened the door to let him see the dog again.

Nikolai is so funny. He is starting to imitate us a lot, including fake coughing when we cough and pretending to chew when we are chewing a crunchy snack like nuts. He says several words, but I do not think he knows what they all mean. I always thought he would start saying a few simple words for things he likes the best, like bottle and bath. Instead he seams to repeat words he has heard, often out of context. We let him gnaw on an apple after I ate the skin (and after he threw a fit because I was not sharing) and since then he has been randomly saying “apple, apple.” Many people use signs with babies, so we tried to teach him the “more” sign. Now he will say “more” over and over and if he gets desperate he will add the sign. Unfortunately he appears to think that “more” means Gerber puffs. He will have a tray full of cheerios and baby food waiting, but will keep saying more until the puffs appear. I want to reward him for communicating and making it clear what he wants, but I really do not want to reinforce his belief that “more” means puffs. Plus, a baby really cannot live on puffs alone. He says “uh oh” every time the pacifier comes out of his mouth, and whenever something falls – even if it is a ball he drops intentionally. He seams to have decided that Chris is “dada” even though we have always called him “papa”. Apparently someone (possibly a grandparent) taught him dada and it has stuck.

We bought a Christmas tree last night. We put it up after Nik went to bed, and I was anxious to see his reaction in the morning. This morning he was a little sleepy and playing with his toys and finally noticed the tree. He stopped playing and very seriously said “oh”. He crawled over to it and I picked him up to get a closer look. He cautiously touched a branch and pulled his hand back. This evening he still seemed wary of the tree, which hopefully lasts for the next 3 weeks!

I started looking at daycare facilities since I have to go back to work in January. The first Kindercare place nearly made me cry. The room for the babies and toddlers was about a quarter of the size and with much fewer toys than Nik’s room at the baby house. Plus at the baby house there is usually a 1 to 3 ratio, while daycare facilities only have to have one adult to four babies. I could not picture my active boy being confined to such a small space all day. Many places I called have a waiting list until July or August, so I did not bother visiting them. Today I visited a different Kindercare that I liked a lot. There are a lot more babies in the room, but the rooms for the babies, wobblers, and toddlers were big and clean with lots of toys and room to play. To enter the baby room, we had to take off our shoes, which seemed very Kazakh. The staff seemed good and calm. The wobblers (a transition stage between baby and toddler at this facility) were actually in a quiet environment for a nap, which would clearly never happen at the first Kindercare. I decided to reserve Nikolai a spot at the center and while I was writing the check, they let Nik play in the baby room. When I went in to get him, he had already accumulated two toys and was trying to get another toy out of a little girl’s hand. He may be trouble at daycare. He was a little upset that I cut his play so short when we left.