Saturday, May 31, 2008

I want to play!

This has been the week to play in all kinds of ways.
Monday was at my sister Carol's place. Carol has been planning for a while the activities we could do during this week. She has a 5 year old son and a less than 2 year old and could imagine our lives pretty well!

Then we tried out the free kids night at Friendly's restaurant and met up unexpectedly with a childhood friend of mine. We are staying not far from where her family lives now, so that was the site for a visit this afternoon.

And we went to a small local zoo. The boys ran through it pretty quickly. They could not get as close to the animals as they would have liked. But the water fountain they could interact with! Still quite the new attraction for them.

We also went to "town playalot" which is a large indoor play area for kids with about anything imaginable for kids up to about 8 years old. Our boys tried just about everything- from one to the next to the next. There were many outfits to try on- dressing up as different characters, but there were only 2 or 3 that our boys could really identify with.

Then tonight is was Chuck E Cheeses night - restaurant with play area. That is a recipe for overstimulation for adults much less kids, but our boys had a blast of course!

David is thriving and his little cheeks have filled out- I bet he has put on 3-5 pounds since we arrived. And he keeps saying he wants to play! And Erik is also very interested in Play of course. He is a bit more guarded about interacting with other children, but less so than he used to be.

We hope they keep warming up to playing with others rather than just along side of them so the English language learning happens over the summer. Because they have each other they still use Lithuanian quite a bit. But they also are understanding more and more and once in a while, repeating what we say in English.

Monday, May 26, 2008


I notice that the dates on the post correspond to time in Lithuania, not in USA in case anyone noticed a discrepency.

Sunday brought us to a first English Sunday school experience. Pastor Tim led the class and the Buckwalter cousins swelled the class to more than double! He did a good job with them along with my help focusing our boys and helping with some language difficulties. Their garbled pronounciation of English is tough for the first time hearer. But they seemed to understand a nice amount of what was happening. The focus was the same as they had in LT sunday school last fall- God's creation and care for us.

Then the church service where they remained throughout the hour. The layout of chairs is more similar to an upside down capital A where the speaker is between the 2 legs of the A. Erik requested to go to the front during the singing to be able to see what is going on. And I thought it would be best to go back later, but he thought otherwise. Some of the time they were on the floor with their spiral notepads, but they were quiet through almost the whole service! We could not have imagined that in Silute.

Then there was more extended family time which we spent at the church and the huge grassy area out back.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Buckwalter cousins day

It was a big day of play at Grandma's house, rides at the Greek Festival near Aunt Carol's house and then dinner with the whole family. A bit hard getting to sleep now, especially for David. Today was also the first they had rides on "horses" and they- especially Erik has been asking for that every day for a week.

We will visit Norma church where I grew up tomorrow. (We also share from our Lithuania experience there on June 8) Next Sunday we will share about Lithuania and our calling at my sister Carol's church in Vineland, not far from where we are now. It is a bilingual (spanish english church)

On June 21 we will share in the morning service at Lititz Mennonite.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

heading out

We stopped at Hershey Farms for some entertaining with the boys. Had a nice amount of animals for them to observe and a play area- before the long drive to NJ.

They did really well with meeting new people and the transitions here. Met my sister Darlene's family for the first before coming back to Malaga camp where we discovered we have wireless internet in our room!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

practical update

Of course we are having the most fun experiencing things with the boys. They had a play date this morning and then an active evening with families from our church with young and school aged children, many of them boys. It was the most interactive play we've seen of Erik in quite a while.

On the practical side we have a "work" list too.
When we were in Warsaw for the last steps of US immigration approval for IR3 visas, we needed to sign forms saying we will get the boys vaccinated to agree with the US standards which are a little more advanced than LT ones. We have yet to schedule that.
We gave our envelopes of paperwork in at the immigration check in Washington DC when we flew in. They will process it further and send us the certificate of citizenship. That should arrive in a few weeks. At first we thought we needed to await that in order to apply for passports, but found out that no, we had what we needed to apply. So we took care of that yesterday. The passports should be sent to us in about 4 weeks. And they return our documents- which we need to apply for social security numbers (we think).

And then, we need to recheck the status of things in LT regarding the legal status of them reentering Lithuania. The controversial issue regarding dual citizenship not being allowed in LT is under some review, but who knows when/if there will be movement on that. Eventually (if not right away) our boys will need permanent residence permits which take 6 months to obtain. Only 90 days of that can be spent in Lithuania if they must return on American passports the way we understand it.

While we are in the US, we are also trying to get a number of evaluations done and resources together for encouraging our boys' development. The options in the US are far broader than in Lithuania. One of these is an international adoptions clinic at Children's hospital of Philadelphia. There a doctor and Occupational Therapist and psychologist if needed who are experienced with international adoptions evaluate the child(ren) thoroughly and help the parents understand if and what special help is recommended for their adjustment or medical care.

There are not huge problems, but speech is still a concern for both. We also might be able to join a research study of internationally adopted children by a speech therapist in Baltimore and get an extensive evaluation done free that way.

And we see the time with family and friends as very foundational in the boys understanding their identity in a new family that speaks English. We hope they have a good foundation in English by the time we return to Lithuania, but that will require a lot of exposure and a lot of play with children speaking English!

This Friday we head to NJ to spend time with Sharon's family, including a 5 year old nephew that the boys have been waiting to meet. We will stay at a Christian camp with a guest house that is giving a special deal for us as a missionary family. Then we will have additional time at North Wildwood where Gregg's parents have a place which will feel like vacation. And then back to business! Well- getting more of these practical things done. We should be back at Gregg's parents' place by June 14.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

More new things

The train set downstairs is something we waited a while to show. It is quite large and has a lot that curious hands want to and feel compelled to touch!

They also eventually warmed up to Maggie who will become a weekly part of our stay when at the Brubakers. They are still quite afraid of dogs and both boys verbalized it clearly now.

Today was a first for pizza american style. Erik cried his way into the restaurant being sure he would not like it. Never was wild on it in LT. But, once he saw meat stuffed pizza that was a different story!

It has also been interesting to see the boys reactions to new things here. (Some are things we smile about when we return after being away for more than a year too!) Like lots of water in the toilet! And automatic faucets. And automatic garage doors. And today the automatically opening door at the post office.

And we hear a nice amount of new language already as well. Both boys are picking up English words here and there. They usually understand gammau and papa in English. And David is picking up some Lithuanian as well making longer sentences. Very interesting.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

little boys' paradise

Though adjustment issues are real (more later) there are many exciting and happy moments for the boys here. All forms of tractor like transportation. Gregg's father uses wheelchairs for getting around the house and electric ones for getting the yard work done.

And the grandmothers have had resources for great toys for them as well. Aunt Julie is an expert yard sale shopper and finally there is a good place to put the things! And families from our Lititz church also loaned toys.

The biggest challenges are for Erik who becomes easily overwhelmed with new people. So far he is meeting ones he has seen in our picture book and that we have talked about, but still he prefers to sit with mama or stay away in another room for a while. The other day after nap we had a visit from Gwen, Gregg's sister. We had not told them ahead of time that she was coming. This did not go so well with Erik, but after about 3 hours he was ok with her being there and interacted.

Yesterday we visited my grandmother at Landis Homes. And we met other family members they did not see in person yet. We talked about it ahead of time and they were understandably shy but it still seemed to go better with some preparation. It was a rainy day so they could not see the peacock that is the usual attraction for children there. But there was a miniture train set which they enjoyed. And grandma uses an electric wheelchair for longer distances and that was pretty cool too.

My mother and Aunt Julie (my sister) came over later after we saw them at Landis Homes. The boys, especially David were very excited to see them. It was good preparation for going to NJ for a while to see them next week.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

In the US!

We made it!

Wednesday was traveling day. We arrived at the airport with time to get breakfast after check in. The boys fought over hauling the carryon suitcase with wheels rather continuously. The flights went basically as expected. In the long flight a man in the aisle with 3 of our seats was willing to switch, giving Gregg the opportunity to switch with him and have an aisle seat. It was a sacrifice. But on the other hand, he would not have had peace in that seat anyway. It kept Gregg and I busy basically the whole 8 hours. Glad I do not have to do this again in the next couple of weeks.

They took 2 hours naps and then fought sleep once we arrived until almost the end of the 3 1/2 hour trip to Manheim (arrived about 7:30). Then we woke them up as we were getting to the house. They saw toys and that kept them awake until we insisted they go to bed some time later.

They were up by 5am. And we have done a lot already today. Now they are in naps (much against their wills of course) There are a lot of toys and there are tricyles and a tractor- and there are other things they have not seen yet.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

We got the visa and were off for the visit to the zoo. We took public transportation- bus, metro and tram in the process. This too was quite exciting. good play areas in Warsaw. We are impressed. At least in comparison to our life in Klaipeda!

Off very early tomorrow morning...

Monday, May 12, 2008


We are at an apartment rental that allows for internet access!

Today we applied for the visas for the boys to come to the states. We were told we were approved and to come at 3 to pick them up. Except that when Gregg came, there was a paper that had not been done correctly and needed both our signatures. Gregg arranged for me to come right away when he got home. So I went to sign also. When they handed the documents for me to check, one of the boys was listed as female in the visa. So it has to be redone and could no longer be done today. Good we had planned the extra day here. (Though earlier in the day it felt like- oh, we could have flown tomorrow if we knew it would go smoothly)

Then there was time at a park nearby- excellent playground for kids.

And later in the day icecream which then resulted in a trip back to the room (nearby) to clean up!

Tomorrow we hope for a visit to the zoo after getting the corrected visa.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

last notes

We are on the eve of our travel. Bags basically packed, last goodbyes at the old apartment.

Some good news,the health work up for Sharon while we were in Vilnius shows that rheumatic fever connection to sore throat is not a problem for me. This means no surgery for tonsils needed. Some conservative treatment for the ongoing throat and nose symptoms with possible short course of antibiotics. And just to be sure about the joint pain, results for the LYME test come back Tuesday- after we are gone. (Should be able to get result by email in this case)

We are thankful for Betsy Dintaman who agreed to go with us to Vilnius tomorrow and drive our van back here. IT will get some use over the summer with some of our coworkers here.

9AM appointment in US embassy Warsaw on Monday morning. This is really happening!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

over one hurdle

There were some tense moments trying to get things done in one day with the trip to Vilnius. But on request the boys did sit still for one minute for a picture. The rest of the time they were working off the energy they could not expend with 3 hours of driving!

We did not expect to need to get a chest xray for them in addition to the doctor visit. (US requirement since they lived in an institution for a while) The doctor also said we needed passport size picture for the test- so off to get those taken.

At the embassy we got there 20 min. after closing time for those services. We are a known case though with frequent emails and questions over the last 2 years so, somewhere an exception was made and our clearance was given and we have the documents to go to Warsaw!

On the way back we stopped in Kaunas to eat at a mall with a large aquarium- and many other distractions too. And we got into Klaipeda about 10:30 pm.

We will do our best to move the rest of our things tomorrow and have a day for unpacking and then for cleaning here. And then we head out at 9AM on Sunday for Vilnius again to head for Warsaw. We head out from Warsaw early on the 14th.

Friday, May 2, 2008

this and that

One of those amazing little boy moments happened yesterday- come mama- look- and they carried in a dead bird! I guess I only jumped inside myself- and then had to smile.

They enjoyed playing outside a lot the last few days which was great fun and dirt for them and allowed more time to work on packing for us.

We also had coworker Barry Freed around to help with getting things into the new place. Since it is 3rd floor it takes a while to get things up the steps. (and then it is two story inside, so things needed to go up another flight with a curve for "2nd" floor use)

Moving shows us just how much we managed to stuff into every corner and under everthing imaginable in our small apartment. And I needed to clean shelfs and surfaces in the new one today.

Alumni reunion at LCC tonight and Gregg's last night with the teens for this school year in Silute.

Then tomorrow is bachalaureate and graduation at LCC. Sunday is of course in Silute and an important members meeting after the service. Monday begins LCC board meetings. Tuesday we go to Vilnius for the embassy doctor visit and US embassy interview. (If all goes very well we return in the same day)