Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas gifts from the family in USA

Christmas gifts from the states arrived in good time this year and the boys had a goot long while to anticipate. They excitement was fun to watch as they got games and things they were eager to try out.

The phrase christmas is for kids certainly seems to ring true. It was really fun watching them and they are used to how the gift giving works now. They appreciate the gifts and are not just stuck on- more, give me more.

But Christmas was also a good time for us. We had opportunity to participate in several advent events and reflect in new ways on the season upon us. And we did not have responsibilities for the Silute service, other than to bring a laptop computer. More pictures of our christmas at home and the Silute service in another post.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

"Kucios"- Christmas Eve

We shared Christmas eve with Nathan and Dawn Hall, also missionaries living in Klaipeda. A few years ago before the boys arrived we had also had a kuchios meal and invited tem. So we knew they would know what they might be in for! But this time I did things simpler. I did not keep all the rules. I did not use the white table cloth, but probably we did have 12 different dishes including the drinks though. And it was meatless. And we did serve fish. But, we had a live poinsettia on the table which is strictly against tradition. And we did not eat the beloved herring that is part of many of the dishes on a typical kuchios table. We did have beet salad though. And I made kisielis- a thickened fruit drink.

It seems important to me for the boys to experience something of kuchios, at least as long as we are living in their home country where others will speak of it too.

On the other hand, each day they seem to become more and more Americanized so that other than knowing basic Lihuanian language and he cultural exposure of the preschool, they do not seem to identify too much with Lithuania. A few cultural carryovers are eating beet salad, oatmeal, buckwheat, and raw cucumbers...

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Preschool Christmas program moments

The boys were to dress in costumes and this year we did not make the costumes. I realized at the program that everyone in Eastern Europe knows that "Nykstukai" dwarfs where red- except us! David's group boys were to be nykstukai which was certainly clear and easy to the local parents.
Another interesting difference in culture is that the children prepare for a while before the event to say poems and do dances and since songs. And grandfather Christmas is also prepared with about a half hour of his own games and things for the children to do.

In Erik's group they could wear what they wanted. Erik did not want to wear the spiderman mask only over his hair so when I came to see if he was dressed before the program I relented and let him take it off. His teacher had helped him get ready- and told him he could not wear the mask over his face. Made sense to me. She had it nicely over his head, but to no avail! Erik said his poem like the other children did, only he had a few hints from the teacher. We were proud of him.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

You are wasting my time!

This morning Erik was impatient to keep watching a movie DVD downstairs and needed help. He yelled up to us- still getting dressed- for help. When the answer was wait- he responds- come on you're wasting my time!

I have also lost count of how many times the last week either of the boys have told me what is cool!

And of course there is the frequest questions, where's the remote?

Though the boys' language still has gaps, it is amazing how much they do really sound like American kids. At least the LCC students recognize that when comparing to their own command of English language!

Friday, December 18, 2009

LCC Christmas

earlier I wanted to post pictures but the link to my Facebook did not go through on Blogger. Sorry for the delay. Here are a few:

unfortunately at the time Erik was Sick and Gregg not the strongest so just David and I got to participate. There was a nice dessert reception afterward as well.

We also had quite a time putting up our Christmas tree with little helpers from storybook tales! The local custom for Children celebrating Christmas in schools is to be in costume. We had just gotten their costumes (I did not spend so much time creating a costume like I did last year!).

Saturday, November 28, 2009


Well we are thankful that some of us could celebrate Thanksgiving today with the LCC crowd. It does not work so well on Thursdays being that it is a full work day in Lithuania. (Though we did the crazy American thing with other LCC crazies- McDonalds, the only American restaurant in town to feel like it was a special day)

David has been sick since Thursday night after we got back from McDonalds, the sore throat started. Then fever during the night. Gregg has been fighting a GI virus this week as well. SO the 2 of them stayed home from the Thanksgiving meal.

Nice that there were some special activities for kids too. And we brought home an extra turkey headdress for David who was waitin for something special since he could not go. (Thanks Alene!)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Mysterious LEGO story

Saturday David came to me crying and holding his throat with the story that he has a small LEGO piece in his mouth and swallowed it. He had just been playing with LEGOs. He had quite a few small pieces and showed what kind he swallowed. It was small enough that is was not clear if it would cause a problem. A friend called the children's hospital for their advise. At this point just watch, unless there starts to be trouble breathing or something. (Afterall, the flu epidemic has just hit and it could be dangerous from another perspective to take him to the hospital)

Then he threw up- no sign of the toy. And later he started crying again with pain in stomach and throat, threw up. Started playing again. Meanwhile the story changed, he did not swallow a LEGO, just an old cracker. The story kept changing so I still don't know what happened. He did not want to eat, gave him a bit of tea. But the tea came back at night too. No fever at all.

And the next morning (yesterday- Sunday) he started playing like no problem. He did not eat very much, but everything seemed to return to normal.
So today he is back to preschool!

Meanwhile I am also gradually adjusting to the information we got last week about Erik's allergy to dust mites. We had a different doctor than with David and she gave written instructions how to adapt the home. It will keep me busy to wash and iron bedding 1-2 times per week, wash everything down with damp cloth every day, open and air out, not let them in the apartment for 2 hours??? Not likely when outside is damp wet and cold almost consistently this time of year. Then we should have covers on our furniture that we wash often in hot water. And get rid of everything that collects dust.... plants, carpets, curtians, stuffed animals... Well, we will have to find a reasonable compromise I think.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Celebrating Family Day 2009

A larger group of pictures is on my facebook page.

We decided to start celebrating on Saturday since we had a free day and we had a few things to do! One was to put together a new piece of furniture for storing their toys- rather than an overflowing cardboard box where they forgot most of the toys!

We also went to get some baskets to store the toys by kind, and we went on to McDonalds and this time they could get the happy meal and toy of their choice of course.

David did not have to take a nap and he did better than usual under those conditions.
He has started to complain more lately about nap time but usually he really does best to have a nap even if just for an hour.

We stopped on the way back for their heilium balloons, our coming home tradition from the first day- 2 years ago.

We had a gift for each to upwrap at home and some family fun playing "Twister" and putting a puzzle together.

And the boys took to wrestling on the floor on more than one occasion. For now it seems good that we have the space for their active needs!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Family Day is coming

On Nobember 16 is will be 2 years since the boys came home to live with us. We celebrate this with helium balloons and a couple of gifts. So, now the boys are counting the days. It is nice that they can now understand the concept and also have a little more concept of time now that they can count.

We actually will do the celebration on Saturday since we have more time for it then, and we have gotten a piece of furniture to put together for storing the boys' toys- rather than just a huge cardboard box!

Both boys are getting the idea of counting toward 100 and Erik can get to 30 almost by himself.

There has been a new interest in games of different kinds recently too. David is better able to concentrate now on a game like UNO for example. Erik would play games for an hour! This is certainly great to see since Erik has been natured to seek out the TV first before anything.

Maybe for Erik it is also a sign of his introvertedness. He is also good at saying that he is "shy" now when we ask him to interact or greet others.

There is one family that we are starting to get to know from LCC who has a 4 year old boy and 6 year old girl. They came to our place this weekend and the children had a really good time after they got warmed up to each other. Erik even made a point to say goodbye at the door which he has not usually done without coaching from us.

Perhaps this friendship will develop more as this family plans to be around for 3 years. Some others at LCC come and go more often. it also helps that Lars, the 4 year old is a fun boy for them to play actively with! He and his sister are also blonde so they make quite a group of blondies.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

borrowed retreat pictures

We lost our camera somehow on our trip to Czech Republic for the EMM Europe workers retreat :(. But our fellow missionaries Paul and June shared their pictures with us.

We drove to Vilnius- about 4 hours, then got a plane to Warsaw, and again to Krakow, then rented a car again for another almost 3 hour drive to the retreat center. Really a nice facility and they were very accomodating. We arrived a day earlier since the tickets were less expensive that way, and since otherwise the travel day would have started before 5 in the morning. We were apprehensive about how many hours the boys could tolerate at a time with travel, but this arrangement worked pretty well.

Friday, October 23, 2009

LT higher education law

We learned this week that as Lithuanian law stands right now, our boys being of Lithuanian heritage have a right to the same vouchers for higher education in Lithuania as other Lithuanians.

As higher education works right now, students apply to receive funds for University and as long as that University is part of the system, then the funds go to that University. As of this year LCC International University where we work is part of that system. This is a change from earlier years when the University automatically got funds and they decided how many students got free spaces to study and how many pay. Now there is increased motivation for universities to provide the kind of programs that good students want to apply for so that they can continue to receive government funds.

So, if things do not change (of course it is likely that they will though) then even if we did not continue living here, our boys could choose to go to University in Lithuania if they wanted to, and their would be an option for them to study in English language LCC and have most of it paid by the government.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Transformer cars

We are blessed to have Jim and Donna Domabach visiting with us again. Jim is our director from Eastern Mennonite Missions. And Jim and Donna were also missionaries in Lithuania for 7 years prior to that. They got to the see the boys in high gear last evening as they enjoyed extra attention and played with the new transformer robot/cars that Donna brought for them.

As it often happens, little boys can be much more adept at transformer cars than adults. It took maybe 10 minutes for Jim and Donna to show them the first time- to figure out how to transform the robot into a car. And about 15 minutes later the boys were doing it in less than a minute.

It is a struggle for David to wind down after being excited and over tired. And though he was close to falling asleep on my lap watching TV to calm down, as soon as it was turned off and time for bed, he went into high gear again resisting every step of getting to bed. And when pajamas were on, he would not get in his bed but pulled his pillow out to but under the desk in their room. Forcing him to be in his bed would just stir him up further as he thrashes and screams. His poor little nervous system just had too much. But eventually he could be coaxed into his bed where he continued to roll around and fuss for a bit.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


The word No is a common word in any language I guess. Erik has picked it up in his language from watching German cartoons. Oh nein! It seems to come out more automatically than No!

David on the other hand uses Taip- yes- very easily as soon as we switch to Lithuanian, like he does not even think about it.

We had birthday celebrations around here for the last few days- Gregg's Sunday and mine yesterday. We arranged our schedules to have Monday as some time off for the two of us at home since it did not work out to get babysitters for any other day, and on Monday they were both in preschool. Then Tuesday night we had our first experience of taking them to a restaurant without any children's area. Chinese. They were not too interested in eating since they had a small supper at 4 at preschool. Fortunately they have a growing interest in counting things these days so we made some games out of that to keep them occupied. There was some kind of informal guest book at our table too for people to write comments. And the boys needed to write in it. It would have been great if they had been able to keep to one page each. Oh well.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Reactions to mom away

Last weekend I was at a women's conference in Lithuania and was away for 2 nights, the longest so far. The boys had time with Gregg and also with a babysitter for a couple of hours... shortened a little from the plan since she seemed to run out of energy keeping up with them. :)

When I returned they seemed eager to see me as I saw their faces through the car window at night, but we were taking someone else part of the way so I gave them the promised "gifts" I brought along and waited to sit with them in the back until the other person was dropped off. Soon it was evident that David was eager to reconnect physically. For Erik there was a barrier- no hugs, no kisses no holding, though he was glad I was there. But he pushed me off enough that it started to be mean and Gregged corrected him on it. He still did not know how to act so he was pouting.

When i invited Erik to sit on my lap for the bedtime story (lately we have been telling stories while they lay in bed), Erik was eager to do that. And he asked me to pick him up early after lunch the next day. I had the freedom in my schedule so I did that. And then he was eager to be physically next to me or on my lap or in active play together for most of the afternoon.

In reality both of the boys welcomed extra attention on Monday and then things got back to a more usual rythmn. When I compare to the reaction from last year going to women's conference I can see the growth in how they respond.

This week Erik also had another special experience. His preschool class went to the library on the public bus. A lot of other children had never ridden the bus before. But, Erik had. But he enjoyed the tour and of course remembered the candy he was given! We went as a family for the first time to the library today and he was determined to get back to that room for more candy. Turns out it was a conference room where they sat for a presentation and of course today there was nothing.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

getting married

Ieva turned 4 this week and we were invited to the party at a mall play area at the other end of Klaipeda. This is one we had not been to before. They have little side rooms for parties and there is a possibility to rent a "party leader" in costume. But since that would have been in Lithuanian and we are the only LT speakers of this group of expats, the kids just played on their own. And they had a great time with that. And then we had pizza and cupcakes.

Coming home Erik announced that when he gets bigger he is going to marry one of the girls there. They had played together and sat together- the first time we've seen that with a girl, after all it has only recently begun happening -the bonding with boys for Erik. Anyway, it seems that the girl asked him if he was going to marry her. David got on board too and said that when he gets older he is going to marry one of the little girls there too. He had in fact given her one of his favorite toys at the party- brooght it from home for her!

So of course we just smile.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

dance class- almost

The preschool usually offers a dance class for the young children led by an outside teacher. There was a sign for signups and today was to be the first day of dance. There had been a large group of children last year. Even though we did not manage to sign up, we expected to have David start today.

But, when I arrived at 4:30, little dance slippers in hand, because we had not found them in the morning, the teacher had not come. Not enough children signed up, and we do not know if there will be enough for next week or not. David was quite disappointed. When he gets his mind on something he is going to do it is hard to get him on to something else!

But eventually we got changed to go home. And I dropped both boys off at LCC with Gregg who walked with them home. He has been doing this 1/2 hour walk with them several days a week now, with a short stop at the store for a treat on the way.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

getting in the new rhythm

We are getting to gradually adjust to school schedule. Weather is still warm enough to enjoy outside activities. The last 2 Saturdays we were out as a family on the bike trail. Many things in our lives are beginning to feel normal again, after these 2 somewhat wild years with lots of adjustments.

We also picked up a game the boys like now- Frustration (like chase the rat or Trouble-not sure how many different names this kind of game has) and believe it or not it was the toy in the Happy Meal at McDonalds!

A few months ago, I was trying to guide my wandering tomato vines so they did not bend over in the balcony and break off. But one broke off in the process. I was going to throw it out, but I think it was David who said - you should stick in it water. We had just done that with a spring of another plant the day before. So I decided ok, it probably won't hurt. It became my science experiment! After a bit it started blooming. I was amazed to find a tomato formed. And now- it has turned red. It is quite small, and perhaps I could have replanted the now well rooted sprig, but instead I've just kept watering it.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

start of school

September 1 is a holiday- of sorts. Dress up and take flowers to teachers is the basic rule. (And Lithuania passed a law no selling alcohol on that day)

The tradition does not really carry on at LCC, but there are other traditions there and new ones beginning too with the start of a new president. We had convocation during the normal chapel hour and that was a dress up affair, and then after classes, games and BBQ. It was a little hard to know how to dress for the day :)
Gregg has decided to teach 4 sections of 20 or so rather than 3 of 30 this year, but it is still all on the same Tuesday/Thursday. And I will have part-time hours again Monday Wednesday Friday with occasional meetings at other times. I also hope to spend some of the afternoons with the boys, especially to give Erik some American Kindergarten level activity. (We would start 1st grade here at age 7)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

goodbyes and hellos

the summer is ending
It is time to say goodbye to a few of the boys' playmates who have been playing outside with them by our building. One family returns to Kuwait for the school year. And another girl goes back to her parents in Kaunas.

Erik's reaction reminded me a little of last years' parting from cousins- just hard to express and looking and sounding very frustrated and disagreeable.

David on the other hand clung more to the one girl who was leaving later in the week. Her grandmother decided on the spur of the moment to invite the boys to go to the beach with them one day. It was 11am and I had come home from LCC so Gregg to go to a meeting. Erik did not want to go if I was not going. But David was happy to go. Said they would be back in 3 hours. After 4 hours I started to get pretty nervous, but after a while they did return no worse for the wear. David kept wanting to go back there for the rest of the day. Of course he was also getting candy and gum all day which mama does not give very freely!

The more complicated schedule has begun with Gregg and I taking turns at the office and the boys still home one more week. They start back to Preschool on Tuesday, September 1. We will probably have them in full days that first week and then get them out some days in the afternoons after that.

With the new school year there are always new people to get to know as well. One family that came for this year has a 5 year old boy. Another has a 4 year old boy.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


it is time not to travel! We've done enough things to get pictures!

But real life has been happening around that too. We have enjoyed pleasant weather, nothing very hot, but at least it has been short sleeve weather for the most part :)

One of the things the boys talk about with some regularity is going to heaven. not sure what makes them think of it so much. We are not included to talk about it except as it comes up in bible stories. But, to our surprise Erik has gotten the idea that he should stop drinking and then he will die and can go to heaven. And he tried to get David interested in it too, which works for about a half hour. They both lose interest in it quickly. But that they came up with the idea still amazes me. I am not sure but we may need to also keep our eyes open for signs of depression with Erik because his tone is not just light-hearted. And though he is far more upbeat and much less angry than a year and a half ago, the roots are not completely gone.

David continues to develop in the areas where he is behind, but it looks like some things will still be delayed for this year. We are hoping he will become aware of his bladder overnight during this year. And that he will have better memory for cause and effect as he is both injury prone and limited in his consciousness of right and wrong. Since Erik is quite well developed in this area, it is more noticable to us. We find it difficult to redirect David when he gets his mind or behavior stuck on something. At these times it seems we have a perpetual 2 year old on our hands. At these times we also have to remember that some of this is influenced by the developmental brain damage in utero - his mother's alcohol use while pregnant. Yet, we see signs that he learns things by memory faster than Erik does.

I have gotten quite tired of hearing off-handed remarks in public about how naughty our boys are or how shameful that they don't listen to their mother. So, we are trying to be even more diligent about behaviors at home. There are some things that we did not address in the first year because we simply could not fix everything at once without crushing them. But now we realize that there are patterns of speech in addressing us and demanding that we should not be letting go.

But I should brace myself. These two know how to play off of each other and have great fun doing it. I could see that was going to be the case when they were 2 and 3! And as it sometimes happens with kids, they really are funny... when as a parent you are not supposed to laugh.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

adoption picnic in Lithuania

Friday night Saturday - Trakai campground. Beautiful and great people. Lithuanian families. European families. Relaxed atmosphere. Children with special needs. Lithuanian families who take more than 2. Challenged my stereotypes in a good way.