Tuesday, January 29, 2008


We are making some progress in getting the boys acquainted with some students who are eager to help with babysitting.

Tonight we were able to get out as a couple again. It meant teaching the boys the meaning of clean up again when we got home, but it was worth it.

It is quite a lot for a babysitter to manage these two guys if they are not sleeping, or not just waking up from sleep. And they immediately test to see if the new person will allow whatever they want to do. But they managed to eat supper and the babysitter said she survived. And that they weren't too bad.

In the morning we had another student here for an hour and a half so that I could deliver the copy of the court decision for the baby house, something that was due them some time ago. The director called after it and so that moved it up on the priority list.

There are still a few steps to go with documents before we can get the stamp in the passport that allows them access to the states. It feels like it goes forever, but some families get it done all within a week when they come to pick up their children!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

birthday cards

Imagine getting your very first real mail! Erik did not have any hesitations about ripping open the envelopes though. And the stickers inside one of them were a real hit.

We let him choose his own cake and it was quite a tasty cake with chocolate and nuts!

Saturday, January 26, 2008


Tomorrow is Erik's 4th birthday. We hope some of our friends and family may send some ecards over the next couple of days. Erik does really enjoy time looking at video clips and interactive things on the computer.

Since Sharon is responsible for coordinating the Saltshaker youth conference this weekend our celebration will be Sunday evening. So far it has been a good conference with many Lithuanian young people being challenged to know their creator and live out the things God has created them for.

Maybe we will organize a bigger birthday party for both of them close to the other birthday coming up soon -at the beginning of March. By then the circle of friends their age will be more developed and if there is a reason they both get attention and gifts there will be less jealousy.

We are glad the boys are still basically healthy with all of the others around who are in the flu epidemic. Mom and Dad are fighting the bug.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

challenges and hope

The last 2 days were stretching every ounce of patience and I have found myself getting angry- suffering from a short fuse. It took me a while last night to work through and let go of those feelings. We had a number of students over in the last couple of days- ones who are willing to spend time with the boys or babysit.

Yesterday the comment was- I can see how this is hard to be with them all day- are they this noisy all day?

I took the evening away and got an outfit in my size.

But today seems like a different day. And part of it is the distance I had from part of a day at work.

And part of it is the news that one of the daycare/preschools closer to LCC where we work has space to take Erik and he can start in a couple of weeks. He won't start right away because he needs a medical clearance. And because chicken pox is going through the daycare at present- along with flu in season. The risk of sickness is definitely the downside of daycare.

The prices just went up from 100 litas per month to 160 per month. Plus you buy supplies. And Breakfast would be extra.

The building is not the most inviting place. I suppose something has been done to it since independence, but I'm not sure what. But the Director and her assistant seem to be bright people so I hope for decent teachers and good peer stimulation for Erik.

Meanwhile, Erik continues to want a good deal of attention. And hopefully he is getting the reparenting that he needs. He plays a rather restless baby in my lap. But he is accepting of affection and hopefully a healthy bond is growing.

We also have a first family doctor appointment for Feb. 5 for both boys. They are still LT citizens so that care and specialist consultations are free. We will likely get referrals to specialists for recommended yearly followups and as needed- speech therapy. Likely Erik will get his in school now.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Christmas again

Well, this week the last box arrived of Christmas presents. So we had a mini party on Thursday morning before Gregg went to teach at LCC. Some really good puzzles for the stage they are at now, balloons, and a doctor's kit all made a lasting impression. And the peanut butter will make Gregg happy for a while too!

On Friday evening we visited at Pastor Modestas' home. That was a real delight for the boys, playing with totally different toys and with other kids. They will go again with Ramune after church when we have a member's meeting after church.

David Augenijus is maturing and becoming much more aware of himself and his communication is increasing. This makes it possible to do more talking about what we do and don't do and getting him to take responsibility for what he does.

Erik is also talking more. In fact on the way back from Silute he talked non-stop for 1/2 hour. Lots of impressions to work through. He made up stories and told some stories of what he has done in the past, mentioning various caregivers at the orphanage along the way. His language is much more Lithuanian, but he does insert a few words like "clock" and "ride bike". One still has to really concentrate and know his way of speaking since pronounciation is not so good.

Today Erik saw David Augenijus bring the baby carrier to me and we used it a bit, so he decided he wanted to be a baby for a while. He kept up the routine for an hour! So that gave a good amount of cuddling time and lovin' and attention. Then he started to gradually do more older child things. He also decided he would shoot with imaginary gun. (He does tend to talk about that kind of thing from time to time and had talked about being a policeman from his earliest conversations in the orphanage). Well mama does not like the talk of guns. So mama decided to play that the gun got her and she could not move. This eventually upset Erik so much he went running over to Gregg to be comforted. That was unusual for him. So mama explained what happened and he seemed to be OK then.

We are so amazed by the fine motor coordination that David Augenijus has. We asked for beads and string to be sent and I imagined larger beads, but he picked up these beads with great enthusiasm and with no model at all strung them up!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

bible story time

We've added reading/telling a very short bible story to the bedtime routine. This is helped greatly by a toddler's bible story book my mother sent us. Each day has a picture with a pickup flap. And the boys say a thank you prayer after Gregg models it. (They are still competing for saying the prayers at meals.)

David Augenijus is beginning to say his original name Augenijus. Also a sign that we need to be more diligent if we want to make the switch in names.

We also tried dance class today. The group of children is a bit older than our boys and it might not work out quite yet. But there are more girls proportionally so if our boys would be up for it they would be eagerly accepted.

Next Monday we will try out a music class for toddlers. That will be a little young for them, but the only one available (not full) and the local Yamaha school.

Today was a work afternoon again for me. And I get greeted at the door with wild tales of what the boys had been doing for the day. They really get excited and I can barely make out what they want to say. My work now is preparations in the last week and a half before our yearly LCC (and local churchs) youth conference for Lithuania and beyond.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Encouraging signs

From our time away at the winter garden in Kretinga

The afternoon away was very successful for us personally and also for the babysitter who stayed with Erik and David Augenijus on Saturday. Yay, yahoo, 3 cheers!!!
Thank you Ellie! She will also come for a few hours on Tuesday mornings.

Ramune (Pastor Modestas' wife) also commented about how the boys are responding better. We were in a restaurant together after church and we had done this a couple of times before. It was notable that Erik did not just say no and resist whatever I wanted him to do. He was curious about other people sitting at tables and would walk right up to them. But I could guide him away without making a scene. And they played well in the kids area and came to get us if there was a problem.

Friday, January 11, 2008

getting a break

Well, it seems odd in a way to say we are looking forward to a break when we have been "on break" from LCC for the winter holidays. But it has been an intense time here with the boys, their adjustments and ours. They have been demanding quite a bit of attention and it seems that they need it most of the time. It is certainly better this way than if they were having trouble bonding to us.

But we also see some ways the bonding still needs to develop. The bond of love and trust from which behavior should develop is still not what we hope to see. but to keep a balanced perspective, they are young and they are doing all of the testing things that little ones naturally do.

And they are little dare devils sometimes who rough it up and fall and get up and do it again. Our friends who visit watch in amazement. They don't get stopped by things kids usually would cry about and change their ways.

Tomorrow we look forward to the afternoon free and a student will stay here with them through nap time and a bit of play time.

Today I had a first half day back to LCC. It took a while to get my head on straight, but after a while it felt good to be removed from the constant mama this, mama that and acting as guard and mediator.

I picked up the new birth certificates yesterday and proceeded to check out possibilities of registering at a preschool where some of our Lithuanian friends have their kids. The director said, no, can't register there as they already have full groups for the fall and 100 on the waiting list. I've heard stories that people register their kids at birth in order to get them in when they are 3 years old.

We had hoped that Erik could get speech therapy integrated into preschool. He really needs the interaction with kids older than him. For now he uses the level of language for a 2 year old (his brother). And there are a few habits he would outgrow behaviorly better in the right context.

But there are private speech therapists and I got a recommendation for one today. And we got contact information to find out about music and dance classes for little ones. And that might be what we can do for this spring.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

different week

We have had the intermittent presence of our coworker and friend Barry Freed with us the last couple of days. His ministry location is Panevezys. And he had been home for a visit to family over the holidays. Barry is an excellent connector so he also has friends in Klaipeda and many other places in Lithuania.

We hear occasional stories throughout these days of things that happened in the "group"- Erik's orphanage family. Some were associated with being sick, some with play, how the teacher let him mix paint colors (which I was not planning to do) and now about how he broke a door one day at the orphanage. Some of his comments seem to indicate that he still expects to go back there. And once in a while Augenijus slips and calls me tete instead of mama.

We received the official documents from the lawyer regarding the adoption and today we applied for the new birth certificate listing us as parents, and with the new names. (I pick it up tomorrow) And we still need to learn what the process is to get a passport for them.

Then we also need to schedule doctor exams for them at an embassy approved doctor- only one is in Vilnius. And we have things to prepare for the US embassy in Warsaw. But that trip probably won't happen till March during Spring break. Of course we also need to decide finally about going through with the change of citizenship now rather than two years from now. The benefit of waiting would be not needing to go through visa hassles as American citizens on this end for the next two years. And there are certain benefits they would still get as LT citizens. But the down side is that each time we travel we would be going through 2 different procedures and the boys would need visas for some places we don't. And each other circumstance we would go through different procedures needing to figure it out each time how we do for ourselves and how we do for them. We are leaning toward just getting it taken care of in May before our preapproval runs out.

It is suprising how often Erik asks about whether we are going to Silute. It is in such a positive note, even though he is not always the happiest and certainly not the most compliant while being there.

New situations seem to make him nervous if not truly afraid. He usually resists visiting new people and leaving the house for something new. And in public we have to prepared that he will be acting on those emotions. But sometimes it goes rather well.

Last night we visited friends we had not visited before and it went better than Erik expected it would. They have children and toys which helps of course.

We are also talking about getting Erik started in speech therapy. He will need regular skilled stimulation to progress toward the norm for his age group. He is more interested in active things and does only short activities of a more cognitive nature. Augenijus on the other hand has a stronger interest in books and talking. if we get Erik into preschool, then he will be able to get speech therapy there which seems ideal. Probably there will be a waiting list though and we need to find a private alternative for speech.

They do pretty well together for imaginitive play. And playing out the instructions we have given or corrections we give.

So we are glad for two. They are each a joy in their own ways.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Soup for breakfast

Yes, they asked for soup for breakfast yesterday. And I was delighted. Though my health improved by Wednesday, then Erik got a chest cold and coughs periodically. So Chicken broth with macaroni letters was a good start to the day.

I'm learning good things about soup. Culturally here it is a way to get vegetables and also to get liquids. Having soup for first course means not necessarily serving something to drink at the beginning of the meal.

We had split pea soup for lunch which is one of my American favorites that they do like. And I decided to wait on the beet soup for supper til the next day. Though a local favorite they are moody about when they will eat it.

Temperatures down to single digits at night and the teens (Fahrenheit) make it a different experience than earlier. Though it also means more sun than we've been having. And since we have good heat in the apartment it is ok. The challenge is finding enough inside things to occupy 2 little boys energy. When they play nicely together it really is a joy to watch!

A student came by today for a while and she is volunteering to help here a day a week with the boys. Seems very promising as she is a very reliable and quite bright young lady. We are looking for a bit more of this kind of thing and the opportunity eventually to be able to get away for short times without the boys.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

New Year

Well New Year came and went with a little less fanfare than anticipated. New Year's even after having guests Kim and Andrew and their daughter Ieva (a play favorite of the boys) Sharon ended up getting sick during the night. And stayed in bed the whole next day. Gregg did a super job with the boys, occupying them and keeping them rather calm.

There is a potent stomach/intestinal virus flying around LT these days and apparently I got it. But today I'm feeling like more of myself. Perhaps it was time for a break and slowdown from the activity level over the holidays and from all the change we have been through.

The boys greeted me in the morning with great tales of what they did the day before and with outstretched arms to be held. (something of course they did not experience the day before)

They are still experiencing new things and the wonder of it. Today we were looking through a new book with the LT names of things at school, at home in different rooms. And he jumped up to show me that we have these things too! Just amazing to realize that this is the first time that he is putting the conection together from pictures to real life in these everyday things. This evening it was eating chicken off the bone. Gregg had to tell him what to eat. (David Augenijus just did what came naturally without questions)

It is very cold now. So, time outside is not something mama would naturally look to do. But for the sake of active boys with new bikes...

It feels like there is so much to teach, so much for them to experience... and still a nice amount of behavior in public that we would like to shape. Of course that starts at home. The one we are working on now is at the table when eating. This is one area they are fluent in talking about- liking or not liking the food. And saying the equivalent of "yuk!!" "Blah". It is a natural thing in Lithuanian culture to comment on weather food is tasty or not. So this part we will be more lenient on. But, they really make it a game to say "blah, neskanu" and outdo each other.

Overall, they seem to be responsive so we just need to keep consistently working toward our goals knowing that in time it will show!