Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Doing better

I went by the orphanage to check in and see how the boys health was. And they are doing well and the doctor had given the word that if their mother came she could take them out.

So we had a brief ride out to the sea to look at the sun setting.

One caregiver today said that Erik is really claiming his mother to the group. If someone picks on him he says- I'm going to tell my mama! And this is a newer development.

We'll have them for the day tomorrow- which is a holiday here. All Saints day. Most locals are going to grave sites to honor those who have passed on.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Under the weather

Today's visit turned out much different than expected. I met a caregiver outside on the way in who told me about health problems the boys had and that I should go to see the doctor. Dr. Kazlauskiene is a nice gentle spoken woman whom I met for the first time. She confirmed that yes, one had vomitted during the night and the other had pain in his tummy in the morning and both were to stay on grounds today.

I eventually found them later outside after I went inside to look where the doctor seemed to expect they would be. They had been waiting for a while by the car another caregiver told me later. They knew their "mama" was there, even though the caregivers were not sure since I did not come to the car. But eventually she led them on a walk in the woods to collect leaves.

When I came outside to look for them I also met up with the man who takes care of the yard. He definitely looks into retirement years to me. But I wanted to personally thank him for finding the part of the car key I lost a couple of weeks ago. He told me the rather amazing story of how he recovered it from leaves he had already gathered some time before. I brought a plant in today to thank whoever had found it-I really didn't know. I had been called by the director last week when they found it.

So, eventually I got to the car(van) and the boys were returning from their walk to the sound of "mano mama atejo" (my mommy came!), this time most clearly from Augenijus.
The caregiver suggested they could sit in the van for a while. we had only about 20 minutes till lunch time when they needed to go inside. They enjoyed the time but were not happy about needing to go inside. And after some real antics they came in, but only to lay on the floor and suck their thumbs! Oh, well, we all do things differently when we are not feeling well- or when very disappointed!

Another way to look at this "under the weather" title is that we are in that darker season again. Some have noticed on the acuweather prognosis on the blog it sometimes says dreary. Not a very usual word for weather in the US where my family is from. But it can be very real here!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Sunday visit to our house

Usually we bring the boys here Saturdays, but this Saturday we had a meeting in Siauliai for the day with Free Christian church pastors. So, our option remains the 2+ hours we could have after 4:30 today.

We have received a care package of fun things like books and a animal sounds toy from Sharon's mother this week. And we were given a bag of stuffed animals from another family here. So the boys squealed in delight to see the new things out on the sofa and there was great excitement exploring for a while. They were not to happy to need to return back to the "grupe" but with the prospect of taking back a toy with them to the group, they finally cooperated.

They were also out in the dark for the first time. This weekend the time changed and so it was dark outsie while they were here and for the trip back. Erik noticed the street lights and learned to copy Gregg saying- I like the dark, I'm not afraid- and then told his teacher as soon as he got back!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

interesting day

Little boys need a variety of activities and today had a few. For those who read in earlier posts about praying at the table, I'll share this extra. Today when I said it is time to pray, it started a "broken record" of prayers and the boys started saying them. They would start with the thank you God and mumble something after that. I usually thank God for the day, the food and each of the boys by name. And so after a couple of time of that I asked who is going to thank God for Mama. And Erik was quick to say Thank you God for mama. They were interested in trying on our large shoes and walking around the house.

The pictures tell as much. And today I asked our coworker Michelle if we could come to visit and see her little dog. It is trained, but quite energetic. Unfortunately, for as much as the boys love dogs, they are quite scared of them. They have been taught that dogs bite. And so we wanted to introduce them to a friendly dog that likes people. And this one ran up to the door as soon as we entered. The boys screamed and clung to me. But little by little we could show them that the dog does not bite, that the dog likes to get treats and so on. But Augenijus is still quite afraid. Even looking at a picture of a dog that he has seen in our album before he now seemsscared of it. It will take time. They still like seeing the little dog from a distance though.

Today we also used kid's clay- firmer than playdough-for the first time. I started rolling it out and realized we could make snakes. Was not sure what they would think of that. But they decided that was great fun and they can make the snakes "bite" mama. Augenijus especially seemed to like wilder play. Taking naps is still a challenge. They agreed to go to bed if they could go together. But in the end that just does not work and one got moved to another bed. Today I spoke with the director again. She says we should be able to get a written permission to have the boys from the Adoption service in Vilnius right after the court hearing. And then we can have them basically right away. That probably means Friday after the court date, if it is settled in one day. We have heard of some families that had to come back the next day for the answer from the judge. Then we will probably arrange to take them back for a good bye party.

Monday, October 22, 2007

HBH - a restaraunt with play areas

This post is about our day with the boys on Saturday. I, Gregg, had preaching responsibilities in Silute and Klaipeda on Sunday, so I'm only posting this blog Monday morniing.

Saturday was such a nice day--the sun was shining, not much wind, and temperatures were above freezing--that we decided to go to HBH, which is a popular restaurant just ourside of Palanga that has play areas for children.

The boys really enjoyed the time there. As you can see above, the slide was a favorite, but they ran from one thing to the next, exploring everything. There were wood horses to sit on, swings, rocking horses, small structures to run up and into, and a play area inside next to the eating area.

We ordered food and then showed the boys the play area. They explored everything. It is wonderful that we can still have a lot of "first" experiences with them, even though they are already several years old. When the food came, they ran back to eat, but then wanted to play again. So we let them for a few minutes, then they came back to finish eating.

They were so excited, enjoyed themselves and ran around enough that for the first time there was no complaining about having to take a nap when we got back to our apartment. Augenijus fell asleep on the ride home, and Eric almost did. I carried Augenijus in, and Eric walked in, but almost fell asleep on the chair when takling his boots off. He fell asleep within 15 seconds of being put in bed.

After the nap, it was play time. Mama got out the picture ibook of family and friends of our summer furlough. Both of them were very interested in the book and wanted to meet the people who were in it. We told them that someday, when we take a long airplane ride, we will all be able to see them.

Augenijus is playing with the minivan toy that we found on the Internet that looks just like our actual minivan. It has become a favorite toy of both Erik and Augenijus. We let one of them play with it for 10 minutes, then the other gets to play with it. When it is time to change, the one will say "pa-to" (how Augenijus tries to say "prasau", or "please" in Lithuanian) to the one who has the minivan and offer whatever toy he has at the time. It is fun to see them sharing with each other, even if Mama or Tetis must enforce the sharing the first couple of times.

Friday, October 19, 2007


Earlier this week we awoke to a warm apartment- a noticable change! It was a challenge the day before to keep all of the rooms warm for the boys with one electric heater. But now I will probably have to watch they don't get too warm when they come here. The usual is multiple layers. And until it gets to the coldest of winter, when the heat is on, usually only 1 layer is needed in our apartment.

Today I had the experience of riding a bus to Silute. (Gregg had a full load going to youth group this evening, and I wanted to go a little early to check out a few more used clothing stores.) Somehow I thought maybe by now the European union standards would be used for bus rides. But there is definitely a logistics problem with Friday afternoon public transportation to Silute. So while I sat in an old bus for 25 and 12 more people stood for the hour, I tried to think of what I could be thankful for.

Colors of fall (Even inside the bus- bright oranges and reds, dull yellow), The doors opened every 4-5 minutes at another stop letting in fresh air!, Lithuanians a rather quiet, so it was peaceful time to think, I am just old enough not to feel completely guilty when the grandmothers complain loudly that the younger generation is not trained well to give up their seats.

It is also just nice to ride through the country side in fall. And in the end I found a few more bargains. And spent some time with Modestas and Ramune and their children which never seems to happen often enough.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


We had a visit from our mission director Jim Dombach and his wife Donna. They met the boys on Tuesday. It was a big day because they got some new toys too- perhaps we'll get a picture with them later.

Each day is another experiment with what food they like. Of course they like cake, whatever I give them and Tuesday was "blondies" chocolate chip bars. They are not given much chocolate at all because of fear of allergies to it, but they did not seem to react to the bars, the first chocolate we've tried.

So, on the "skanu" (tasty) list is: split pea soup, Chicken broth with noodles, pancakes- anything that looks that color and size, french fries, hot dogs, jello blocks, pretzels, crackers, cookies, multi grain cheerios with a little milk, cucumber. Augenijus will also eat mashed potatoes, bananas, and downed some broccoli with help. Erik is sensitive to textures and thinks some foods make him sick- such as broccoli and watermelon.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Court date

We finally heard when our court date for the adoption will be! It will be on November 15, at 2:30 p.m. (7:30 am EST).

Our “case” has been reviewed by a judge, and he has set this date to appear before him in Vilnius. Representatives from the baby house and Klaipeda Social service will go there too. We will answer questions and as long as everything goes Ok, he will assign custody of the boys to us then. We will finally be able to bring the boys home “for good!” Of course, there may still be the 40-day wait until everything is fully legal, but we can have the boys as long as we do not take them out of Lithuania. And I just counted that (technically) 40 days from November 15 is DECEMBER 25! What a wonderful Christmas Present!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

ducks and swans

Today we were in Silute for the morning service. A friend and his wife from Siauliai was there and he preached. We did not realize we would meet today, nice surprise. And a reminder once again that people in many places are reading our blog and learning about our journey getting to know the boys!

We were also duly warned that there will be hard days to come. Perhaps we have made it sound like it is one amazing honeymoon. Who knows, maybe comparatively it is since we do not have the 24/7 responsibility yet. But the other reality is that we do not write all of the struggles in detail here. This is a rather public forum when it comes right down to it. And we realize that the picture we are painting now may come back to us and to the boys. So the interesting and fun developments are most of what you will continue to find here.

We went to the Palanga park today in the later afternoon to see the ducks at the pond, but especially the 2 white swans. Next time we will take bread along, but we enjoyed seeing others feed them. And in the end grabbed some grass like others did for the swans which they seemed to enjoy.

Augenijus wanted to be carried most of the time today, but we did encourage him to walk some too. He is just cute enough that he has about trained his caregivers to give him or allow him whatever he wants. We are not continuing that trend, but it is not easy to look into that cute face and not smile and not give in!

Saturday, October 13, 2007


Today is Sharon's birthday. We expected the event of the day to be the little party we would have in the afternoon. When we arrived there was another plan presented to us.

First of all we needed to be watchful of the boys, they had both done something to seriously upset the caregiver and one of them hurt another boy. So mama was asked to add to the discipline and correction.

Then the caregiver suggested it would be really good if we got the boys haircuts today. Erik has curly hair so then thought a basic job like they do there would not be so fitting. Anyway, we did get appointments for them both at 2 in the afternoon. That was right at naptime.

But circumstances led to putting one down earlier for a shorter nap and the other seemed to do OK for one day without a nap.

We invited friends Vaidas, Gina and daughter Ema to join us for the celebration with cake which the boys were waiting for all day.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


Today was another visit at our apartment. But before we got there it seemed like nice enough weather to be outside in the new rubber boots.

I definitely underestimated how messy that could get! We found some large puddles on our way out to the see and Augenijus especially likes to make as much of a thump in the puddles as possible. I did not realize until we were home and getting undressed that both boys boots were filled with water! Of course pants and one snow suit needed a lot of attention. And we needed different clothes.

Imagine take two of the washing machine episode in the last entry.- squeals again and trying to figure out what was going on in there.

Probably the more memorable thing for me- other than how really exhausted I am at the end of this day- (which by the way is Gregg's birthday, so there were extra things to plan and accomplish)is what happened at the table.

They like sitting at the dining table. And I need to get there attention to other things since they want to keep coming back to the table. A couple days ago we started the tradition that when we have lunch we stop and hold hands and say thank you to God for the food and the day (in Lithuanian). I said the last time that we should close our eyes and demonstrated. Well today they wanted to do it more than once. Erik even repeated some of the words that I would say.

Today I also made paper cards for the boys to color for Gregg's birthday. In August, I brought a template of cars, plane, boat which I had for scrapbooking. So I drew the outlines for each of them. Erik was able to color inside the outlines which we had not seen him do before.

For those not familiar with living conditions here, having to wash the boys clothes makes a more complicated day. We do not have a dryer- most of our friends here do not. The heat is not on yet and that means that we cannot use the hot water radiators to dry clothes. We do have one portable electric heater that looks like a radiator, and one small electric rack in the bathroom. Of course not everything gets dry in a days' time.

Daytime temps need to be below 50 F consistently for the heat to be turned on and we have not hit that consistently yet. Nighttime is getting down in the 30s now, so we do notice it in the apartment.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

This was the outside shot i said would come later.

Today after a meeting to introduce Chris our LCC chaplain to the chaplain of the Klaipeda University, I went to pick up the boys.

They were outside and Erik was away on a walk with some of his group. By the time we got to our apartment they were both talking about wanting to eat. And they know where the kitchen is and so they were ready to sit to the table. (Of course lunch was not ready)

I am not often inclined to use a video as a babysitter, but this time in order to get food together, I hoped it could work. But,no, they did not want to look at a video or TV.

We had an interesting time of it, learned a few more things they like and don't.
There was also quite a bit to clean up after and I guess I will come to expect this for the future.

Nap time was also not on their list of things they want to do. But eventually they did fall asleep and they consistently sleep for close to 2 hours.

At lunch there was reaching into food, getting up on the chair to reach to the middle of the table, and leaning into the bowl of soup to spill it down over the clothing. So I took the opportunity to get a load of wash into the washing machine.

This was great fun. First time to see a washing maching spin. It is side loading and glass window in the door. Imagine two little faces up to the glass squealing with delight!

They began to notice that Gregg was not here. I said he would come after they finished sleeping and Erik was sure to keep asking about it when he got up. So Gregg got a warm welcome when he came home about 5pm. We went out to play then and though having dad around was good, when I disappeared to get something they were no longer content to play just with dad. But Gregg did well in directing their attention to play until I returned.

Erik was unhappy about returning to the orphanage. We softened the hurt a bit by sending along a pack of crackers he could give to the kids when he returned. But, he was still sullen. Augenijus did not seem to mind too much. The idea of a home is not so real to him at this stage. And we sense he has not bonded to us in the way Erik has, at least not yet.

We will continue to look for the attachment issues in his adjustment. He has lived at the home from the beginning with many caregivers and not necessarily having attached particularly to one of them.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

home visit

Our friend Barry Freed who is also a missionary with EMM was by today and took some pictures for us- thank you Barry! To get all of us together and looking pleasantly toward the camera is quite a task.

We'll have another outside picture another day.

I discovered as I pulled out some pants to replace ones that got wet and dirty from being outside, that I don't have ones small enough for Augenijus... So that will be a chore for this coming week. (And Erik effectively has more than I thought now and some to grow into.) I think I was judging from sizes they wear in orphanage clothing, but not all of that is necessarily the right size. It is what they have available and washed at the moment. When we take them back with clothes from us, it is a toss up whether they will have them the next time or not.

But for all the things I would do differently, I don't have an institution to run and my ratio to the boys- though at time overwhelming at 2 to 1 is not 5 to 1!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

File submitted to court

In the meantime several other significant events happened.

On Tuesday Sharon spoke with the baby home director. She was pleasant and positive in general, but she confirmed the earlier statement that we may not have the boys overnight until after the court date.

We did make an agreement for them to come for longer visits during the day. Sharon has Tuesday and Thursday as free days, so we'll start with that, and probably Saturday too. So we are happy for this as a transition time.

Tuesday we were also contacted by the Klaipeda social service office. They asked for us to come in to explain the church affiliations we have. Since we are from a Mennonite Mission, it means there is more explaining to do. There are no Mennonite churches here. And almost noone has heard of them. And the church we work with is the Free Christian church, registered in Lithuania, but not one of the "recognized" churches.

To have the status of traditional church (technically allowed to teach faith in schools, get financial help from the government, do not need to pay taxes) a church needs to have a long history here. The traditional churches here are Catholic, Orthodox, Lutheran, Reformed, and Jews and Muslims also have status. The Baptists have an in between status called recognized, even though they have been present since the 1800s. New church groups can gain recognized status after being present in Lithuania for 25 years. And the Free Christian church and Methodist church and others have been registered, but are not yet recognized. (The Free Christian church has anabaptist roots, some history in the baptist union as well)

So, today we answered a half hour worth of questions about Mennonites, our purpose as missionaries, what is this new small group- Free Christian church, and then talked a bit further about our relationship with the boys. We seemed to part on pleasant terms.

It is likely that some question related to religion will come up in the court. At least we have heard it happens for some others. So now we have thought about it a bit more.

We have taken the boys out by car, by the sea the last few days, and then yesterday here to the apartment. They really love to ride in the car! And they get super excited at the apartment too. Here is one view of that.