Tuesday, September 28, 2010

flexible weather

Today will be rainy again. Throughout September the weather changed -sometimes rainy and cool, and then warm and sunny- not really above room temperature. Figuring out how to dress takes careful attention to weather forecasts and carrying an umbrella anyway just in case.

Some of our warmer days gave opportunities for some outdoor activities worth capturing in pictures:

and then there was Ieva's birthday party on an Indian summer day.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

strong emotions

We wish we did not hear so much whining, crying, yelling and so on. To that end we had developed a chart that rewarded some good behaviors and also required chores for bad manners and for the often repeated bad behaviors. Erik has earned points on the rewarded behaviors, but this is something David is not too well able to value yet.

After too many days of loudness, fighting fussing and all, we decided this week that David needs to get to bed earlier and probably we need to get him out of school occasionally to get naps too. He slept fine the night after getting a nap, so that says something! David is still learning about staying in control of himself and mommy is realizing the wisdom of Daddy's observation that we need to keep on top of him- giving cues as soon as he starts his out of control laugh, or does repetitive behaviors.

For Erik the days at school are probably long too, though he did not complain this week. Last week when I went to get him early as he requested, he refused to go. So, at least he basically likes it there. But he is showing a stronger will and rudeness adn when we correct him, he has a hard time understanding. He feels very justified in resisting at any cost when he feels he has been misunderstood. And there are more of those times that we would like. Tpday he got a nap, first time in quite a while. The consequences for treating mommy the way he has been is that Daddy decided that he must put Erik to bed for the next 5 days.

I have to admit I do not remember being this angry before. Oh, I was angry in the early months, but I realized that the boys' behavior could not be helped because of all of the transition and what they had been used to. Now I find it hard to believe that Erik does not understand what he is doing. Yet, when we work on explaining it I do see that he does not read social cues correctly and does not understand much of the effects his behavior will have on the family.

Monday, September 13, 2010

I just kissed Erik goodnight

For normal families this title would be no big event. But for us this is a landmark.
For quite some time now, Erik has avoided being kissed at all costs. I think I probably was able to sneak in some kisses in the early months he was with us, but I really do not remember when that would have been. (David is quite different in this way)

It became quite noticable this summer when Erik would avoid affection from grandparents too which they would have hoped would be a normal part of their relationship. In a way Erik has wanted affection but he preferred it in the form of chasing and tackling him or tickling.

Now for a few weeks he has started to say "goodnight, I love you" sleep well, and so on at night time. But he still avoided hugs and kisses. Then a few nights ago it seemed he was ready for hugs. And now after the 3rd time tonight when he said goodnight, I love you in his process of going to bed, I asked him if I can kiss him and he said, maybe. And when I kissed him he did not turn away or wipe it off as he has done if I pushed it in the past.

Small pleasures of life.

They seem to be doing well in school and generally liking it. The adjustment is going better/faster than I expected. And the teachers say both of them understand without difficulty and they do not recommend any additional Lithuanian class to get them up to speed with their peers. Speech therapy will start in October and then we will touch base again and see how things are progressing.

Erik does tend to be lazy about the first and some last letters of words when he talks and it makes sense, as his teacher points out, he will not learn sounds and reading if he does not get this in his speech. So, that is our homework, to get him to pronounce better.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Starting Universa Via

In the month before school started our expectations and plans for the school year turned around. It was a big change that we hope will be for the best.

In Lithuania the start of school is September 1 and it is like a holiday. Children take flowers to teachers, parents attend ceremonies with the children and they don't have a full day (and the whole first week was nor full days)

Universa Via is a private school that is not specifically Catholic or Christian, but all the same emphasizes spiritual life, and chooses the local Catholic parish as a means of promoting that to some extent.

The opening day included a service at the large Catholic church across the street form the school, and just up the road a short bit from LCC. It was a new experience for the boys. And a trying one for mom. The boys have difficulty sitting in any church service and their anticipation of this new school experience made it so much harder.

After the service there was a short ceremony- actually entertaining in the school yard and then the children and parents went into the classroom for some activities that introduces teachers and children. We also learned then that David would have a different teacher than ERik- which we think is good.

There is one group of 6 year olds- the usual age for kindergarten and one for 5 year olds, though Erik says there are 5 year olds in his group too. The difference in the 2 groups really is how fast or detailed they work through the material. And often the 4-5 year olds repeat that class twice.

Since this is connected to an elementary/jr. high school, it follows the schedule of the school rather than if we stayed where we were it would follow the rythmn of day care/preschool.

This school has an emphasis on healthy food as well, no pork! That is quite a statement in Lithuania. Erik came home yesterday, the first he was there for lunch and had not eaten a thing. We are going to have trouble with him. He is quite stubborn. David is eating there so far without trouble. (But at home he has started to be stubborn about eating whenever he does not like the limits we set)

This school has a learning program 9 till 1:30 and then activities are optional or there can be free play. Optional activities will include dance class, European football (Soccer), music, art, theater and so on. And this is included in the fees.

The director realized that we have adopted these boys by some other questions we asked and she offered that they could consider reducing the entrance fee because of that. She also decided to decrease the monthly fee for the second child by 20% which we really appreciate!

We had not planned this school into our budget but after wondering and praying about what to do about our boys' needs throughout the summer, it really seemed like this would be the answer. More attention, smaller classes, no naps which makes going to bed at night - esp. getting to sleep so much easier, and the potential for addon of English instruction too when they are ready for it.

Some things about the schedule are still developing and we are told it will not settle into a regular pattern until October.

Does the speech therapist love God?

(I'm still playing catch up in getting ours news on the blog)

The boys needed to say goodbye to their teachers and speech therapist at their preschool in preparation for switching to the new school on September 1. It was even hard for me to say goodbye to these dear women who had loved our boys during the many transitions they and we made in the first years.

The boys took flowers to them and we took a box of chocolates for the whole staff to share. The director was sure to let me know she wishes us the best but if for any reason the switch does not work out so well, we are welcome to come back.

Erik was not really able to verbally express his goodbyes, but that is typical for him and I have gotten used to recognizing the quiet distress he has inside when he ignores people in saying goodbye. He just does not have skills to deal with those emotions. (my hunch is that until he can deal with the traumatic goodbye that happened when we was very young, goodbyes will always be very hard).

David also avoided the goodbye more than I have seen him do, though the teacher he had the last day did convince him to come closer for a hug.

The next day Erik asked something I will probably always remember- Does our speech therapist love God? We have explained the concept of going to heaven and who goes and who doesn't by this simple understanding- if you love God you will go to heaven. So I believe he was yearning in some way to be able to see this woman again who had made a good connection with him. She had helped him to become functinoal again in Lithuanian language and to feel ok about expressing himself verbally.